Karachi: At least 18 people were killed and 24 others injured on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Sufi shrine packed with devotees in Pakistan's troubled Balochistan province, police officials said.
The attacker tried to enter the Dargah Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan and blew himself up when he was stopped by the police at the main entrance, Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Kakar told the media.
Kakar confirmed the death toll and said one police constable was killed while attempting to stop the suicide bomber from entering the shrine. Two other policemen were also injured in the blast.
Rescue officials fear that the death toll could rise as the blast took place when there was a heavy rush of devotees who had gathered at the shrine to pay their respect.
Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers.
Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti told the media that so far it appeared to be a suicide attack.
"Investigations are still continuing and the injured have been moved to the district headquarters hospital in Jhal Magsi," Bugti said.
Balochistan government spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar confirmed that it was a suicide attack.
An initial probe showed that the blast occurred when a Sufi dance called dhamal was going in the premises of the shrine.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban usually target shrines as they consider it un-Islamic.
The local administration declared an emergency at hospitals in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamali.
Thursday's attack is the second major attack at a shrine in Balochistan where in November 2016, at least 52 people were killed and 102 injured in a blast at the shrine of Shah Noorani in Khuzdar district.
Updated Date: Oct 05, 2017 21:42 PM