Pakistan

Sehwan shrine attack death toll rises to 80

SEHWAN SHARIF: The death toll in Thursday’s suicide attack at Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan City of Sindh soared to 80 as five injured of the terrorist attack succumbed to their injuries in hospitals, ARY News reported.  Around 210 people were reportedly injured in the incident.  Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has claimed responsibility of the attack, AFP reports. 

The bombing  occurred in the shrine during the ‘dhamaal’ ritual, DIG Hyderabad Khadim Hussain Rind said. The police officer added that at least 20 children, 9 women, 45 men and one policeman were killed in the blast.

“The blast occurred within the premises of the shrine, we have declared emergency in hospitals and are shifting the injured to nearby hospitals,” Deputy Commissioner Munawar Mahesar told ARY News.

Images of the shrine showed blood smeared on the white floor around the grave, with debris and shoes scattered around.

Survivors and local residents, many in tears, were helping the blood-soaked wounded on to stretchers, while at Sehwan’s overcrowded medical facility the injured were being treated on floors and in corridors.

Emergency services are basic in Sehwan, with the nearest main hospital some 130 kilometres away.

lal-post-1

Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been closed with immediate effect after the blast, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted after the tragedy.

“Air Chief directs to utilise C-130 (aircraft) till complete evacuation. Injured will be treated at PAF hospitals,” the DG ISPR tweeted.


Pakistan Disaster Management Authority has established an Information Desk

Contact Number : 02199239524

Emergency Cell established in CM Sindh House.

For information, one can dial: 02199202065, 02199207368


 

EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT

“I was sitting near the CCTV camera when a man came there but ran away after seeing the CCTV camera, then the blast occurred. I think the CCTV camera has captured this guy’s video,” said an eye witness.

SSP Sehwan said that the blast was a suicide attack and the suicide bomber entered the shrine from its golden gate. Police have also arrested at least two suspects from the blast site.

Faisal Edhi, the head of Edhi Foundation, told ARY News that he has sent 30 ambulances at the blast site to move the injured to hospitals. The injured are being moved to hospitals in Dadu and Jamshoro as Sehwan’s hospital has no proper medical facilities.

Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah phoned the senior civil and police officials of the district and instructed them to reach the shrine. Sehwan in Jamshoro is the constituency of Sindh CM.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar  was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The shrine around his tomb was built in 1356 and decorated with Sindhi ‘kashi-tiles’, mirror-work and a gold-plated door donated by the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi and installed by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

AFP reports: The Islamic State group (IS) claimed the attack, the deadliest to hit Pakistan so far in 2017, in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northeast of the provincial capital Karachi.

A police source said a suicide bomber entered the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a 13th century Muslim saint, and blew himself up among hundreds of devotees.

The centuries-old shrine, one of the most revered in Pakistan, had been crowded on a Thursday, considered a sacred day for prayers.

“Many wounded people are in critical condition and they will be shifted to Karachi as soon as Navy helicopters and C-130 plane reach nearest airport,” Inspector General of Police for Sindh province A.D. Khawaja told AFP.

Sufism, a mystic Islamic order that believes in living saints, worships through music and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups.

The Sunni jihadist IS group has targeted Sufi shrines in Pakistan previously, killing more than 50 in a bomb blast at the Shah Noorani shrine in Balochistan province in November last year.

Analysts have said IS is still scrabbling for purchase in Pakistan despite several high-profile attacks, and officials claim it is on the retreat in Afghanistan.

‘Cowardly’

“To attack peaceful worshipers in one of their sacred spaces is shameful and cowardly,” US ambassador David Hale said in a statement, while the European Union expressed its condolences to the victims.

Pakistanis vented their anger and grief on social media, with users calling the shrine a “capital of spirituality” and a “seat of interfaith harmony”.

The attacks underscore Pakistan’s struggle to stamp out extremism, which was stepped up after the country’s deadliest ever attack, a Pakistani Taliban assault on a school in Peshawar in 2014 which left more than 150 people dead — mostly children.

The government of Sindh has announced three-day mourning in the province. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also announced a day of mourning today.

In-charge counter-terrorism department Raja Umar Khattab and Mazhar Mishwani also visited the site of the terrorist attack in Sehwan. The CTD officials collected evidence from the compound of the shrine. The officials also inspected the footage of CCTV cameras installed in the premises.

Seven seriously injured victims of the attack were transferred to a hospital in Karachi for medical attendance by C-130 aircraft. Six other injured were reached Abbasi Shaheed Hospital of Karachi on their own.

The authorities have heightened security alert at shrines across the country. Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine of Karachi has been closed for devotees and Rangers personnel have been deployed at the shrine for security.

Condolences and Condemnations 

“An attack on one of us, is an attack on all. The attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents an attack on the progressive, inclusive future of Pakistan; one where every man women and child is entitled to life, liberty and property in the pursuit of happiness no matter their religion. The Sufi people predate Pakistan, and formed an important part in the struggle for it’s formation. Any attack on them, is a direct threat to the Pakistan of Jinnah and will be dealt as such,” said a statement issued by PM House after the attack.

“I will do everything in my power to protect this country, and what it represents,” said the PM.

 

Developing Story… Updates to follow……………

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