An explosion near a shrine in southern Pakistan on Thursday killed at least 75 and wounded several dozens of people in the latest in a string of blasts this week, according to police. The blast went off near the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, Pakistan’s Samaa television and Geo TV reported. According to reports, Islamic State’s Khorasan Province group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sehwan police station SHO Rasool Baksh told reporters that around 100 people, including women and children, have been killed in the suicide bomb attack.
WATCH VIDEO | Blast Near Sindh’s Lal Qalandar Sufi Shrine In Pakistan Kills Atleast 75 People
The blast took place during Dhamal – a Sufi ritual, when hundreds of devotees were present inside the premises of the vast mausoleum of the saint, police said.
Initial report suggests that it was a suicide bombing on portion reserved for women in the shrine, the Dawn reported, quoting SSP Jamshoro Tariq Wilayat.
Rescue officials said due to the non availability of adequate ambulances at the shrine the toll could rise. Television channels reported that dead bodies and injured were lying inside the shrine.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif immediately condemned the attack.
Sharif in his statement decried the attack on the Sufi religious minority and vowed to fight Islamist militants who target the government and anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.
“The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims,” Sharif said.
“But we can’t let these events divide us, or scare us. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity.”
The exact number of casualties was not immediately clear. Samaa initially reported more than 50 people injured and Geo TV said 20 people were injured.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered immediate rescue operation and government announced emergency in the hospitals of the nearby Jamshooro and Hyderabad districts. Meanwhile, reports say that Pakistan Air Force’s transport plane would would airlift the injured.
On the same day, a terrorist attack was foiled in Quetta but two officials of the Bomb Disposal Squad were killed diffusing a bomb under a bridge in Quetta.
The attack comes a day after at least seven people were killed and several others injured, including judges, in two separate suicide attacks in Pakistan’s restive northwestern region. The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for those attacks.
Earlier on Monday, a suicide bomber struck police escorting a protest rally in Lahore. The blast ripped through the crowd of hundreds of pharmacists, who were protesting new amendments to a law governing drug sales. Six police officers, including a former provincial counterterrorism chief, were among the 13 killed in the attack which was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar as well.