A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up near the gate of the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh province of Pakistan Thursday late evening, killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 250.
According to the police, the blast took place during a Sufi ritual called Dhamaal, when hundreds of devotees were present inside the premises of the mausoleum of the saint. Hospital staff confirmed that at least 100 people had died in the attack.
The Pakistani army chief responded strongly to the attack, saying the country's forces would avenge every drop of Pakistani blood and that restraint would not be shown for anyone.The US, the UN and the EU were among the first the condemn the deadly attack.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani military announced that the Pak-Afghan border has been indefinitely sealed. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces, tweeted his from official account, saying, "Pakistan-Afghanistan Border closed with immediate effects till further orders due to security reasons."
ISIS CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY
Initial reports suggest that it was a suicide bombing on portion reserved for women in the shrine, the Dawn reported, quoting SSP Jamshoro Tariq Wilayat. "It seems to be a suicide bombing according to initial information provided by Sehwan police to me and I am on way to Shewan," Wilayat added.
Assistant Superintendent of Police in Sehwan said a suicide bomber entered the shrine through its golden gate. The attacker blew himself up after throwing a grenade, which failed to explode, he said.
The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its Aamaq news agency, saying a suicide bomber had targeted a "Shiite gathering" at the shrine in Sindh. The militant organisation also released a picture purportedly of the suicide bomber.
A large number of devotees, from across the country, frequent the shrine on Thursdays as it is a popular day to visit Sufi shrines.
This Sufi pilgrimage centre, famously called Sehwan da Sakhi Shahbaz Qalandar, is the same one that which is mentioned in the popular qawwali Dama Dam Mastt Qalandar, said to have been penned by Amir Khusro.