Bomb attack at shrine in Pakistan kills at least 50

Daesh claims responsibility for the bomb that exploded during sunset when many worshippers gather to perform a ritual dance.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Security personnel stand guard in the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Noorani, some 750 kilometres (460 miles) south of Quetta, on November 13, 2016, following a bomb attack.

Updated Nov 13, 2016

At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in a Daesh-claimed bomb attack that targetted a Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan's restive Balochistan province on Saturday, officials said.

Balochistan has seen some of the worst militant attacks this year. Last month, gunmen stormed a police training center, leaving scores of people killed and many wounded.

"At least 52 people have been killed and some 105 others wounded," provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said, adding that victims included women and children. 

The blast hit a crowd of worshippers participating in a ceremony at the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Khuzdar district, about 100km north of the port city of Karachi.

Local officials said worshippers were taking part in a devotional dance session, which is held daily before dusk, when the blast occurred.

"Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal (ritual dance) here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this," said Nawaz Ali, the shrine's custodian.

A Pakistani Army soldier takes picture of the blast site in a shrine of Sufi saint Shah Noorani, in Balochistan province's Khuzdar district, on November 13, 2016. Image: AFP

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack via its affiliated news agency Amaq, saying that a suicide bomber targeting the shrine had killed around 35 people and injured 95 others. 

But the provincial home minister said it was not immediately clear whether this was a suicide attack. 

Up to 600 people were at the shrine at the time of the attack, according to local official Tariq Mengal. He added that many devotees travelled to the site from the coutry's largest city Karachi during weekends.

Military helicopters and ambulances were used to shift the victims from the remote location to hospitals situated in Karachi.

Sufism, a mystic order that believes in living saints, worships through music, and is viewed as heretical by some groups including the Al Qaeda, Daesh and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Balochistan, which is Pakistan's largest but least populated and developed province, also shares a border with Iran and a porous, disputed border with Afghanistan. The region is afflicted by militancy and sectarian violence.

The province is also key to a $46 billion transport and trade corridor between Pakistan and China, which hinges on a deep-water port in the southwestern city of Gwadar.

TRTWorld and agencies