Karachi: A suicide attack at a crowded Shia shrine has claimed 20 lives in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province, officials said on Friday.
The attack, claimed by the Islamic State, took place at the Dargah Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan on Thursday evening.
The reports say that the attacker tried to enter the dargah but detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped by the police at the entrance, Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Kakar said.
According to Dawn, at least 20 people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the bombing, District Chairman of Jhal Magsi, Aurangzaib Magsi said.
The explosion, which police attributed to a suicide bomber, took place at the entrance to the dargah at a time when scores of people had gathered to pay their respects.
Thursdays are usually busy in terms of attendance at shrines as the day is considered spiritually significant, but the day was also significant for the dargah as it was hosting a bi-monthly event, the report said.
The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement carried by its propaganda ‘Amaq’ news agency.
The blast took place when there was a heavy rush of devotees who had gathered at the shrine to pay their respect.
Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a Sufi dance called ‘dhamaal‘ and prayers.
Bugti said the shrine was holding its annual Urs and hundreds of devotees from all over the country had come to the place to pay their respects.
A bomb attack on the same shrine killed 35 people in 2005.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack and vowed that his government will act against militants with full might.
The attack is the second major strike at a shrine in Balochistan where in November 2016, at least 52 people were killed and 102 injured in a blast at the shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar district.
(With inputs from PTI)