Toll reaches 18 in suicide attack on Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s Balochistan
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Toll reaches 18 in suicide attack on Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s Balochistan

The explosion took place after hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects at the shrine.

world Updated: Oct 05, 2017 22:26 IST
The incident took place in the Gandawa area of Balochistan’s Jhal Magsi district.(Reuters File)

At least 18 people were killed and dozens more injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Sufi shrine packed with devotees in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province on Thursday, officials said.

The bomber, who tried to enter the Pir Rakhel Shah shrine at Fatehpur town of Jhal Magsi district, detonated his explosives when he was stopped by police at the entrance, deputy commissioner Asadullah Kakar said.

A police constable was among the 18 dead, Kakar said. He was killed while trying to stop the bomber. Two policemen were injured by the blast.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast. Several terror groups are active in resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

The shrine, which is visited by Sunnis and Shias, was crowded as a lot of people had gathered for an Urs celebration. Officials said they feared the death toll could rise.

A lot of people also visit the shrine on Thursdays to participate in ‘dhamaal’ – a devotional dance – which was underway at the time of the attack. Balochistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti told Dawn News the toll would have been higher if the bomber had been able to enter the shrine.

This was the second major attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan this year. In February, more than 80 people were killed and nearly 300 more wounded when a suicide bomber targeted the famous shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh.

The Pir Rakhel Shah shrine was also targeted in 2005, when a suicide bomber killed 35 people.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 19:58 IST