At least 52 people, including women and children, were killed and more than 100 others injured today in a suicide attack carried out by a 14-year-old boy at a popular sufi shrine in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.
The blast occurred in the remote Hub region in Khuzdar district of the province while devotees were participating in a Sufi dance called “dhamaal” at Dargah Shah Noorani.
At least 52 people were killed and more than 100 have been injured in the blast, rescue officials said.
“People who are critically injured in the blast will be transported to Karachi,” Bugti was quoted as saying by DawnNews.
The target of the attack was the area where believers would perform ‘dhamaal’. The blast site is situated some 250km away from Karachi.
The blast happened when about 500 to 600 devotees were present at shrine.
The Express Tribune quoted police sources as saying that the blast was a suicide attack carried out by a 14-year-old boy. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rescue teams reached the blast site and started shifting the deceased and injured to the hospital. However, rescuers were facing difficulty in accessing the site as the shrine is located in a remote area.
The death toll is feared to rise and women and children were among those killed in the blast.
“The shrine is located some 250 kilometres from Karachi in the remote mountains of Uthal and our vehicles have been dispatched there to carry out rescue operations and shift the injured to the hospitals,” said Hakeen Lassi, an official of the Edhi Trust Foundation.
Local tehsildar Javed Iqbal said security arrangements at the shrine were not proper.
“It is sad that although thousands of devotees from Karachi and other parts of the country visit the shrine everyday but there are no medical emergency facilities or ambulances at the site,” he said.
He said the devotees take part in the ‘dhamaal’ everyday after sunset and the blast took place close to where they were dancing inside the compound of the shrine.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the bomb blast. They directed the concerned authorities to speed up the rescue activities and provide best medical facilities to the injured.
This is not the first time that extremists have targeted a shrine in Balochistan. This is the third major incident of a bombing in the province since August.
In August, about 70 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack outside the civil hospital in the provincial capital Quetta. Last month, 64 police cadets and two army men were killed when three terrorists raided a police training centre in Quetta.
An emergency has been declared in hospitals of Khuzdar and Karachi. The only hospital in the district is Civil Hospital Khuzdar, which is not equipped to handle the scope of the emergency.
Pakistan President Hussain said, “the government would eliminate the evil of terrorism from the country.”
Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said that provincial government would do everything for the victims as he ordered commissioner of Qalat division to submit a report about the attack.
Gen Raheel Sharif has ordered troops of Pakistan Army to provide the victims of the blast with maximum assistance for evacuation and medical treatment, a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
Troops and medical teams have been dispatched to the blast site, the statement said.
The provincial government has set up a special team at the Home Ministry to deal with the situation after the attack.
Electricity services were also disrupted following the explosion, hampering rescue efforts further. Electric power to the shrine is supplied with generators.
Two platoons of the Frontier Corps had also reached the shrine with medical and rescue equipment.
Syed Zulfiqar Shah, the deputy commissioner of Khuzdar, said rescue teams were facing problems as they were no mobile signal networks in the area.
The mineral and resources-rich Balochistan province has been hit by terrorism, sectarian violence, targeted killings and insurgency.
More than 1,400 incidents of targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have been reported in the province during the past 15 years.
The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran and is said to be the home to some terrorist outfits as well who fled the northern and tribal areas after the military operation started there two years back.