At least 61 people, including children, were killed on Friday in a suicide bombing during Friday prayers at a packed minority Shia mosque in Pakistan’s Sindh province, the deadliest sectarian attack to hit the country in recent times.
The explosion, carried out by Jundullah, a splinter group of Taliban, brought down the roof of Imambargah Maula Karballa in Lakhi Dar area of Shikarpur, around 470 kilometres north of here, and buried worshippers.
Health Minister of the Sindh Province Jam Mehtab Dahar said the death toll in the blast had gone up to 61. Children are also said to be among the victims. Fifty Five people were injured, many critically, in the attack, officials said.
The attack took place amid Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ongoing visit to the port city of Karachi to review the law and order situation. During his visit, Sharif pledged to continue the war against all foreign and local terrorists in the country.
Sharif condemned the blast and ordered an immediate probe.
SSP Shikarpur Saqib Ismail said initial investigations suggested it was a suicide attack as a stranger had forced his way into the Imambargah while seeking directions for a welfare hospital.
“It was a high intensity explosion and caused a lot of damage with the roof completely caving in. Most of the deaths occurred because many people were trapped under the roof debris and died due to suffocation or injuries,” he said.
Farhan Kazmi, an official of the social work organistation Edhi Trust, said the casualties could rise since there were around 400 people in the Imambargah when the explosion took place.
“It was a makeshift Imambargah and the roof caved in immediately due to the intensity of the blast,” he said.
The attack took place when worshippers had assembled for the ‘Zuhr’ afternoon Friday prayers.
Many were trapped under the debris and hundreds of people rushed to the scene to dig out survivors. The explosion was heard several kilometers away.