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75 People Killed And Another 200 Injured In Pakistan’s Sehwan Shrine Suicide Bomb Blast

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On Thursday late evening, at least 75 people were killed and another 200 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the gate of the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan town, some 200 kilometres northeast of Karachi.

The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a statement circulated by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted a “Shiite gathering.” The Sunni extremist group views Shiites as apostates and has targeted Pakistan’s Shiite minority in the past. It views Sufi shrines like the one targeted Thursday as a form of idolatry.

According to the police, The explosion took place after evening prayers — Thursday holds spiritual significance in Pakistan’s shrine culture — in the area where the dhamaal, a Sufi ritual, was being performed.

The bomber entered the compound from the Golden Gate side and headed straight for the area, where the devotees were performing the ritual. He covered the explosives by wearing a Burka. The bomber blew himself up after throwing a grenade, which failed to explode.

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Senior police officer Shabbir Sethar feared the death toll might go up. “So far 72 people — 43 men, 20 children and nine women — have been killed and more than 150 wounded,” IG Sindh AD Khawaja said. “Many wounded people are in a critical condition and they will be shifted to Karachi as soon as Navy helicopters and a C-130 plane reach the nearest airport.”

According to eye witness, the explosion caused panic inside the shrine, leading to a stampede. Security has been beefed up across the province, especially at shrines, following the attack. An initial probe conducted by a bomb disposal squad confirmed a suicide bomber, carrying explosives of at least eight kilograms, triggered the bomb. Nut-bolts were used in the bomb along with the dynamite, they added.

Rescue officers said dozens of wounded people were being ferried in private cars, in auto rickshaws, on carts, and on foot to hospitals. Emergency services are basic in Sehwan, with the nearest main hospital some 130 kilometers away.

Raja Somro, who witnessed the attack, told a local TV network that hundreds of people were performing a spiritual dance known as the Dhamal when the bomber struck. “I saw bodies everywhere. I saw bodies of women and children,” he said.

Deputy Inspector-General (DIG)Hyderabad Khadim Hussain told Al Jazeera that at least 75 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the attack.

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Dr Moeen, the medical superintendent of the Taluka Hospital Sehwan, said that they had received 50 bodies — some of which were mutilated beyond recognition.

“More than 250 people are injured — 42 of them critically,” he said, adding that those with life-threatening wounds were being moved to hospitals in nearby districts. A state of emergency had been declared in hospitals in Dadu, Sehwan and Hyderabad. Provincial Health Minister Dr Sikander Mandro said an emergency had been declared in Karachi hospitals too.

Local TV showed graphic footage of the aftermath of the blast, with wounded worshippers crying out for help and the floors covered with shoes, blood and body parts. Women cried and beat their chests in grief.

Following the attack, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa addressed the situation on social media, directing the Army, Navy and Air Force to conduct evacuation and relief measures. Blaming “hostile powers” in Afghanistan, the Pakistan-Afghanisatan Border was closed with immediate effect due to security reasons.

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed that security forces would track down the perpetrators of the attack, according to Pakistani state TV.

He called the incident an “attack one on Pakistan’s future”. He said, “The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims. 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.”

“Sufi saints played a major role in the foundation of Pakistan,” Sharif said. “This is an attack on Pakistan’s future.”

On behalf of the Army Chief, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted:

He further tweeted, “The Combined Military Hospital in Hyderabad has also been directed to treat the injured.”

Speaking to the media, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said, “Eight ambulances reached the site of the incident. Residents of Sehwan shifted the injured in their motorcycles and car.” He said around 70 people have been admitted to the hospitals. “The nation will bring the terrorists to their ultimate fate,” Shah added. He declared three days mourning across the province.

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Pakistani students light candles to condemn the attack on a shrine in interior Sind province, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 in Karachi, Pakistan.

The US State Department condemned the attack and said it will continue to work with Islamabad to combat terrorism. “We stand with the people of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism and remain committed to the security of the South Asia region. We will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan and our partners across the region to combat the threat of terrorism,” said a statement by acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Abhisikta Ganguly
Abhisikta Ganguly
I am an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams which I live with to fulfill. People find me to be an upbeat, self-motivated team player. I will work until my idols become my rivals. I love adventures and love to explore the unknown from the very known thing. Besides, I love singing, writing and reading stories, listen to music and watching cartoons and movies.

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