At least 100 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a suicide bomb attack on a shrine in Pakistan, according to police. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“At least 72 are dead and over 150 have been injured,” senior police officer Shabbir Sethar told Reuters, adding that the death toll is likely to rise.
Later, Rasool Baksh, a senior officer from the Sehwan police station, told local media the death toll had reached 100.
Military units are airlifting the wounded to nearby hospitals, according to Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the spokesperson for Pakistan’s armed forces.
“The loud explosion took place inside the complex of the shrine near the gate,” Assistant Superintendent of Police Rashid told Geo News.
The area is located far from any hospital, with the nearest medical complex located 40 to 50 kilometres from the site of the blast.
Large crowds of people, from different parts of the province, were gathered at the shrine when the blast took place.
Devotees throng to the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers.
According to reports, the explosion took place after devotees had gathered inside the premises of the shrine.
A high number of casualties were feared because of the crowd of people gathered at the shrine.
The wounded were being shifted to hospitals in Jamshoro and nearby areas.
Terrorists have targeted shrines of Sufi saints in the past.
In November, dozens of people were killed and more than 100 got injured in a suicide blast in Shah Noorani shrine near Hub in Balochistan’s Lasbella district. Additional Deputy Commissioner Lasbella Tariq Mengal had said that 500 to 600 people were in the shrine at the time of the blast.
The attack in Sehwan on Thursday is part of a recent wave of terrorist attacks in the country, the fifth blast in less than a week targeting innocent people.
On Sunday, a suicide attack in Lahore killed 14 people and wounded over 60 others.
On Wednesday, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around leaving seven people dead.
One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.
—This is a developing story and will be updated as further reports are received