KARACHI: Nearly 100 people were killed and dozens injured Thursday night when an Islamic State (IS or ISIS) suicide bomber blew himself up inside the crowded shrine of revered Sufi Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan town, some 200 km northeast of Karachi, in a string of deadly blasts this week in Pakistan.
The bomber entered the shrine through its golden gate and blew himself up near the site where the ritual of sufi dance ‘Dhamal’ was taking place. He first threw a grenade, which failed to explode, SSP Jamshoro Tariq Wilayat said. “He first threw a grenade to cause panic and then blew himself up,” the SSP said.
Sehwan police station SHO Rasool Baksh told reporters that around 100 people, including women and children, have been killed in the suicide bomb attack. Hundreds of devotees were present inside the premises of the vast mausoleum of the saint at the time of blast. Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation confirmed they have shifted 60 bodies to hospitals in Hyderabad and Jamshoro.
The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on their Aamaq news agency, saying a suicide bomber had targeted a “Shiite gathering” at the shrine in Sindh.
Commissioner Hyderabad Kazi Shahid said since the shrine was located in a remote area, some 130 km 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. “Emergency has been declared at hospitals in these places and rescue operations have started,” he said.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Pakistan army had been requested to provide night flying helicopters to shift the dead and injured. “Yes it is a tragic incident and because the shrine is away from a major city there have been problems in providing rescue operations,” he said.
The army said a C130 aircraft will be used to lift the injured from Nawabshah. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and urged Pakistan to “stand united.”
Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers. Television channels reported that dead bodies and injured were lying inside the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.