At least 32 people were killed and dozens more injured by a powerful blast at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province on Thursday, the latest in a string of terror attacks in the country this week.
The explosion occurred at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan town when a large number of people had gathered for ‘dhamaal’ (a Sufi ritual), Pakistani media reported.
Large crowds frequent the famed shrine, which has the mausoleum of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, on Thursdays.
Pakistani news channels quoted hospital officials as saying at least 30 people were killed and state-run Radio Pakistan said the death toll could rise as several of the injured were in critical condition. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals and a large police contingent was deployed at the site.
Police official Muhammad Rashid said the shrine was the target of a suicide attack. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
This is the fourth major terror attack in the country in five days.
On Wednesday, seven people were killed when suicide bombers targeted a van carrying judges in Peshawar and a government compound in the restive Mohmand region. Those attacks came two days after a suicide bombing in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, killed 13 people and injured dozens.
The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Taliban, claimed the attacks in Mohmand agency and Lahore while the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack in Peshawar.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa have vowed to fight the new wave of terrorism, which broke a relative lull across the country in recent months. The manner in which the attacks are taking place suggests that the country’s fight against terrorism is not yielding results.
In October, heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 61 people and wounding at least 117.
Three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent terrified young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.
Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group.
In August, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Quetta’s Civil Hospital killing at least 70 people and leaving scores injured, majority of those killed were lawyers.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), had claimed responsibility for the bombing which occurred at the gates of the building housing the emergency ward.
Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.
The largest province of the country by area, is home to a low-level insurgency by ethnic Baloch separatists. Al Qaeda-linked and sectarian militants also operate in the region. The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.