Suicide attack on Pakistani shrine kills 72, claimed by Islamic State

In a separate incident late on Thursday, gunmen on a motorbike killed three policemen and one civilian in the city of Dera Ismail Khan. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity.”
An ancient mystic branch of Islam, Sufism has been practised in Pakistan for centuries. Television footage from the famous Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in the town of Sehwan Sharif showed army and paramilitary medical teams reaching the site and injured people being taken to nearby hospitals in ambulances and a military helicopter. ‘Stand united’
The bomber entered the shrine as crowds massed on Thursday, a statement from the Sindh police spokesman said. Rescue officials said dozens of wounded people were being ferried in private cars to hospitals. KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) A suicide bomber attacked a crowded Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan, killing at least 72 people and wounding dozens more in the deadliest of a wave of bombings across the South Asian nation this week. “But we can’t let these events divide us, or scare us. Insurgents operate on either side of the neighbours’ long and porous frontier. “We were there for the love of our saint, for the worship of Allah,” a wailing woman told the Dawn News television channel outside the shrine, her headscarf streaked in blood. Lal Shahbaz Qalander is Pakistan‘s most revered Sufi shrine, dedicated to a 13th-century “saint” whose spirit is invoked by devotees in ecstatic daily dancing and singing rituals in Sehwan Sharif. “At least 72 are dead and over 150 have been injured,” Sethar said by telephone. Sindh Sufis
At a crossroads of historic trade routes, religions and cultures, the southern province of Sindh where the shrine is located has always been a poor but religiously tolerant region, helping to shield it from much of the Islamist violence more common in other parts of Pakistan. (Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik in Islamabad, Haji Mujtaba in Miran Shah and Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan)

News Wire Subscribers: This article is not available for republication. A spokesman for medical charity Edhi said the attacker appeared to have targeted the women’s wing of the shrine, and around 30 children accompanying their mothers were died in the Thursday (Feb. In the case of the Quetta hospital blast, both a faction of the Pakistani Taliban – Jamaat-ur-Ahrar – and Islamic State claimed responsibility. No more restraint for anyone,” Army Chief Qamar Bajwa said in a statement. In August last year, at least 74 people, mostly lawyers, were killed in a suicide bombing of a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta. 16) blast. Most of Pakistan‘s myriad radical Sunni militant groups – including the Pakistani Taliban’s various factions and Islamic State loyalists – despise Sufis, Shi’ite Muslims and other religious minorities as heretics. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly condemned the bombing, decrying the assault on the Sufi religious minority. Different militant groups, often trying to outdo each other, say they are responsible for the bombings. Shortly after the blast, the army announced it was closing the border with Afghanistan with immediate effect for security reasons. Jamaat also said it was responsible for a bombing in the eastern city of Lahore earlier this week that killed 13 people. Senior police officer Shabbir Sethar told Reuters from a local hospital that the death toll was likely to rise. Email wendy@religionnews.com. Thursdays are an especially important day for local Sufis, meaning that the shrine was packed at the time of the blast. He vowed to fight Islamist militants, who target the government, judiciary and anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. The country’s powerful military, which has cracked down on insurgent groups in recent years leading to a sharp drop in militant violence, vowed a swift, decisive response. The high death toll at the shrine makes it one of the worst attacks in Pakistan in recent years. In November, an explosion claimed by Islamic State ripped through a Muslim shrine in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 52 people and wounding scores. “The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims,” Sharif said. Islamic State, the Middle East-based militant group which has a small but increasingly prominent presence in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s affiliated news agency AMAQ reported. “Each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately. Questions? The nearest major hospital was nearly an hour’s drive away in Dadu district. The violence has shattered a period of improving security, underscoring how militants still undermine stability in the nuclear-armed country of 190 million people. “Who would hurt us when we were there for devotion?”
The attack comes as the Pakistani Taliban and rival Islamist militant groups carry out their threats of a new offensive.