A massive blast at the shrine of Sufi saint Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandarin in Sindh killed around 50 and injured more than 100 people on Thursday. This is the seventh blast reported in a week in Pakistan. On Thursdays, the shrine is thronged by many who participate in the special weekly prayers. The explosion reportedly occurred at the site of dhamaal rituals.
The bomber entered the shrine through its Golden gate and blew himself up near the site where the daily ritual of sufi dance 'Dhamal' was taking place. He first threw a grenade, which failed to explode, senior police officers said.
The number of casualties may go up considering the area is located far away from any hospital, with the nearest medical complex located 40 to 50 kilometres away from the explosion site. According to Dawn, the injured are being shifted to Liaquat Medical Complex Jamshoro and the sub-district hospital. Emergency has been declared in all hospitals of the area.
Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation said the number of casualties rose to 50. "We have shifted some 40 bodies to hospitals in Hyderabad and Jamshoro so far," he said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban militants have frequently targeted Sufi shrines across Pakistan. More than 25 shrines across the country have been attacked since 2005, according to reports.
Commissioner Hyderabad Kazi Shahid said since the shrine was located in a remote area, some 130 kms from Hyderabad, ambulances and vehicles and medical teams were being sent from Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Moro, Dadu and Nawabshah to the blast site to take care of the injured and move the bodies.
Large crowds of people, from different parts of the province, were gathered at the shrine when the blast took place. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah called up the senior civil and police officials of the district and directed them to reach the shrine at the earliest.
According to Samaa TV, the explosion led to a stampede resulting in more people being injured in the chaos. However, this is not the first time that terrorists have attacked a Sufi shrine. In November 2016, a suicide blast at Shah Noorani shrine had resulted in the death of 52 people with more than 100 being injured.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement saying, “The attack on the shrines of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents an attack on the progressive, inclusive future of Pakistan; one where every man women and child is entitled to life, liberty and property in the pursuit of happiness no matter their religion.”
Police chief Jamshoro Tariq Wilayat told Dawn that initial reports suggested it was a suicide bombing in the area reserved for women in the shrine. "It seems to be a suicide bombing according to initial information provided by Sehwan police to me and I am on way to Sehwan," Wilayat said.
The attack on shrine came a day after Pakistan vowed to "liquidate" all those elements posing a threat to peace and security in the country amid a spurt in terror attacks. The decision was taken at high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday to review the security situation in the country.
"The meeting made a resolve that terrorism emanating within the country or executed and harboured from outside the country would be eliminated and those posing threat to peace and security of the country would be liquidated by the might of the state," according to an official statement. (with inputs from agencies)