At least 11 people, including six children were killed and dozens more injured on Thursday in a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in southwestern Pakistan, police officials said.
The attack took place as Shiites gathered to celebrate the holy month of Muharram at a local mosque in the town of Chalgari in restive Baluchistan, roughly 170 kilometres southeast of the provincial capital, Quetta.
"At least 10 people were killed and 12 others were wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Imambargah [Shiite mosque]," said provincial Home Minister, Sarfraz Bugti.
Several hours later, another victim died, which brought the death toll to 11, said Tariq Zahri, a senior security official.
Local administration official, Mohammad Waseem confirmed the attack and the death toll and said the six children who were killed were between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. Women were also reported to be among the 16 deceased.
Waseem also reported that the suspect was dressed in a woman's burqa and appeared to be around 18 years old.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack.
Authorities have been on high alert across Pakistan, since the beginning of the month of Muharram, as clashes are anticipated to increase between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the region.
Officials have also stated that they would show no tolerance for sectarian hate speech and incitement.
The month of Muharram marks Hussein’s -the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed- death in the Battle of Karbala, in 680 AD.
Shia Muslims mark this month with special prayers and take out processions to observe the death of Hussein. The month is equally important to Sunni Muslims as well, however, public mourning's of his death are not practiced amongst the Sunnis.
Thursday’s attack came as Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif met US President, Barack Obama at the White House for talks on joint counterterrorism efforts.