HUB: The shrine of Shah Noorani which was hit by a huge bomb attack on Saturday has been closed for visitors as confirmed by the provincial government until safety measures were in place in order to prevent such dangerous incidents from happening in the future.
Official sources said on Monday that a section-144 was also imposed, which forbids the gathering of more than four people at any public place.
The attack killed at least 42 and wounded more than 50 and was the fourth deadliest in Pakistan this year. Stricken survivors swathed themselves in blankets and braved the cold under open skies overnight as they made their way home.
The blast, later confirmed to be the work of a teenage suicide bomber by the government officials, hit male and female worshippers as they were dancing and chanting at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani on Saturday, some 750 kilometres (460 miles) south of Quetta, the provincial capital of restive Balochistan province.
Many had travelled hundreds of kilometres to pay their respects to the saint and seek blessings, in line with their belief in Sufism, a mystic Islamic order that worships through music and is viewed as heretical by hardline militant groups.
Witnesses said problems were compounded by the fact that it took several hours for rescue services to reach the remote shrine, located on a hilltop in the Khuzdar district of Balochistan several kilometres away from surrounding villages, with poor mobile network coverage.
Initial reports suggested that most of the peopled died occurred after ball-bearings and 9 MM bullets hit them while some eight kilogrammes of explosives was used in the blast.
Chief Minister Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri confirmed that his government had prior information about a possible terror attack in the province
COAS vows to bring perpetrators behind bars
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif along with Corp Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar and Director General Major General Bilal Akbar visited the injured at the Civil Hospital Karachi.
COAS urged the hospital officials to provide appropriate medical treatment to the injured and vowed to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime behind the bars.
Scholars declare attackers ‘dwellers of hell’
Islamic scholars belonging to Ahle Sunnat issued a fatwa against suicide attacks, terming the suicide attackers particularly those involved in the Shah Noorani incident as ‘dwellers of hell’.
The fatwa was passed by scores of Sunni scholars and members of Ittehad-e-Ummat Pakistan organisation’s Shariah Board including Muhammad Imran Hanafi Qadri, Mufti Peer Syed Karamat Ali, Mufti Abu Bakr Awan, Mufti Muhammad Qaisar Shehzad and Mufti Masood-ur-Rehman.
Islamic State also claimed attack
Sarfraz Bugti, the province’s home minister said the blast was carried out by a teenage suicide bomber and said, “We have found body parts of the bomber which place his age at around 16 to 18.”
The announcement lent credence to a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State, which released a photo overnight of the purported attacker – a dark-skinned youth dressed in the white tunic with a green backpack – via its affiliated Amaq news agency.
It was the second major assault reportedly claimed by the Middle-East based outfit in as many months, following a raid on a police academy in the same province that killed more than 60 people.