Terror attack on shrine in southwest Pakistan that killed at least 25 people claimed by Islamic State
NOV. 12, 2016, 11:33 A.M. E.S.T.
A bomb exploded at a Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Saturday.
(Reuters) – The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on a shrine in southwest Pakistan that killed at least 25 people, according to a statement released by the group’s news agency.
The attack took place shortly after sunset on Saturday evening, targeting worshippers at the shrine in the remote Khuzdar district of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.
The IS statement said 35 people had been killed and more than 95 wounded in the attack, although local officials could only confirm 25 fatalities.
People gather outside an emergency ward of a local hospital after hearing news of the deadly bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan on Saturday. PHOTO: FAREED KHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“Thirty-five visitors of the Shia shrine were killed and 95 injured in a martyrdom attack by Islamic State fighters targeting the shrine in Baluchistan in Pakistan,” read the statement.
(Reporting by Omar Fahmy in CAIRO; Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Jon Boyle)
ISLAMABAD — A powerful bomb went off near a crowded Sufi shrine in a remote region of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province Saturday and local officials say it killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 70 others.
The death toll is expected to rise. Local reports say hundreds of people were present when the explosion occurred at the shrine about 100 kilometers from Hub, a city on the border of neighboring Sindh province.
The victims include women and children. A local official, Shah Noorani, said many of the wounded are in critical condition.
Witnesses say there is no local hospital or medical facility to treat those wounded, which means rescue teams will take hours to reach the scene. Some shrine visitors are relying on their personal vehicles to transport the wounded and dead.
Hundreds of Sufi devotees gather in large numbers at the shrine every Saturday and Sunday to perform special rituals. Those include dancing by women and children who pay tribute to the Sufi saint buried there.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but in the past Sufi devotees in Pakistan have been targeted by Sunni extremist groups.
While people across the globe are drawn to Sufism, its influence is particularly strong in Pakistan. Sufis played a vital role in the spread of Islam in the sub-continent and are highly revered in the region. Not surprisingly, shrines of these mystics draw hundreds and thousands throughout the year. The Islamic State thinks there is great propaganda value in attacking Sufis.
Arshad Arbab / EPA
Local residents gather at the damaged shrine of 17th century Sufi poet Rehman Baba in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2009.
At least 43 people have been killed and scores wounded, including women and children, in an explosion at a remote Sufi Muslim shrine in the Pakistani region of Balochistan, officials say.
Emergency services struggled to reach the site in Kuzdar.
Worshippers at the Shah Noorani shrine were performing dhamal – a trance-like dance – when the bomb hit.
Sufism, a tolerant, mystical practice of Islam, has millions of followers in Pakistan but is opposed by extremists.
The attack was claimed by the Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State, but doubt has been cast over its claims of previous attacks in the country.
The shrine attracts Sufi devotees from all over the country, as well as neighbouring Iran.
Officials say the bomb blast took place while hundreds of worshippers were present, taking part in the dhamal, which is staged every sunset.
Because the shrine is in rough, hilly terrain, rescue efforts are difficult.
A renowned charity, the Edhi Foundation, says it has sent 50 ambulances which are now carrying people to hospitals in Karachi, 100km (62 miles) away, but officials say they need helicopters to save more lives.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and called for speedy rescue efforts.
Imran Khan, former cricketer and head of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said the attack had targeted the “core of our society”.
The BBC’s Charles Haviland says that because Sufism includes music and dance and reverence for saints, religious zealots often target its sites in Pakistan.