DADU: At least 72 people, including 20 children and nine women, were killed and scores of others were wounded when a suicide bomber ripped through Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Sehwan Sharif on Thursday, officials said.
The death toll is feared to go up as many of the injured are in critical condition.
Senior police officer Shabbir Sethar told Reuters from a local hospital that the death toll was likely to rise. "At least 72 are dead and over 150 have been injured," Sethar said by telephone
The explosion took place at the spot where the dhamaal (Sufi ritual) was being performed, within the premises of the shrine. At the time of the blast, there were thousands of people gathered at the spot to view the performance. The sufi shrine is frequented by thousands of devotees and pilgrims on a daily basis.
More than 250 people, including children and women, have been injured in the suicide blast.
The explosion was heard far and wide in Sehwan Sharif town.
Hyderabad Commissioner Qazi Shahid Pervaiz said emergency has been declared in all hospitals of Hyderabad, Jamshoro and Sehwan Sharif. The injured were shifted to Liauqat Medical College, Jamshoro and other hospitals of Dadu and Hyderabad.
A rescue worker told SAMAA that at least 60 to 65 people had died and nearly 500 to 600 others were injured.
Edhi Foundation chief Faisal Edhi said that all ambulances from the nearby cities were sent to Sehwan Sharif to transport the injured to hospitals.
This is not the first time a Sufi shrine has been hit by terrorists.
In November last year, a suicide blast at Shah Noorani shrine killed 52 people and injured more than 100.
PM condemns terrorist attack
“The attack on the shrines of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents an attack on the progressive, inclusive future of Pakistan; one where every man women and child is entitled to life, liberty and property in the pursuit of happiness no matter their religion,” a statement by PM Sharif said.
“An attack on one of us, is an attack on all,” he said. “The Sufi people predate Pakistan, and formed an important part in the struggle for it’s formation.
“Any attack on them, is a direct threat to the Pakistan of Jinnah and will be dealt as such. 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,” he said.
“We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity. We have faced tougher circumstances, and still persevered. I will do everything in my power to protect this country, and what it represents.”
Army dispatches helicopter, C-130
ISPR says that night flying naval helicopter and C 130 aircraft of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) are being sent for quick evacuation of people injured in a suicide blast at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan Sharif.
In a message, DG ISPR Asif Ghajoor said PAF’s C-130 plane will lift the injured from Nawab Shah airport. Navy helicopter will lift the injured from Sehwan and surroundings, he said.
He said armed forces have placed all required resources for rescue effort. “Army and Rangers are doing rescue effort at site,” he added. - SAMAA