Death toll in attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine rises to 88

Dunya News

The high death toll at the shrine makes it one of the worst attacks in Pakistan in recent years.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News / Reuters) – Death toll in suicide blast at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan Sharif has reached 88 after another eight victims succumbed to their injuries on Friday, MS at Sehwan hospital confirmed.

More than 250 injured persons are being treated at different hospitals in Sehwan, Jamshoro, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and Karachi.

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 dead.

Daesh, the Middle East-based militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s affiliated news agency AMAQ reported.

The recent violence has shattered a period of improving security, underscoring how militants still undermine stability in the country of 190 million people.

The high death toll at the shrine makes it one of the worst attacks in Pakistan in recent years.

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.

In November, an explosion claimed by Islamic State ripped through a Muslim shrine in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 52 people and wounding scores.

Pakistan Army, which has cracked down on insurgent groups in recent years leading to a sharp drop in militant violence, vowed a swift, decisive response.

"Each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone," Army Chief Qamar Bajwa said in a statement.

Shortly after the blast, the army announced it was closing the border with Afghanistan with immediate effect for security reasons. Insurgents operate on either side of the neighbors’ long and porous frontier.


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. The nearest major hospital was nearly an hour’s drive away in Dadu district.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quickly condemned the bombing, decrying the assault on the Sufi religious minority.

He vowed to fight militants, who target the government, judiciary and anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.

"The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims," Sharif said. "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."

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.

Thursdays are an especially important day for local Sufis, meaning that the shrine was packed at the time of the blast.