KARACHI: Dozens of people have reportedly been killed and many more injured in a powerful blast that hit the mausoleum of a renowned Sufi, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh provice’s Sehwan Town. At the time of the blast the shrine was bursting at the seams with people from across the town and beyond.
On an average, the shrine attracts thousands of people daily, who come and pray at the shrine that has been partially damaged in the blast.
Reports suggest that it was a suicide bomber who triggered the blast causing more than fifty deaths and destruction of the nearby buildings. The bomber entered the shrine through its Golden gate and blew himself up near the site where the daily ritual of sufi dance ‘Dhamal’ was taking place.
Report from the scenes suggest that the suicide bomber, in order to maximize the destruction, first threw a grenade, which failed to explode, and later blew himself up. Citing Taluka Hospital Medical Superintendent Moinuddin Siddiqui, Dawn reported that at least 50 bodies and more than 100 injured were brought to the hospital. Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation said the number of casualties rose to 50. “We have shifted some 40 bodies to hospitals in Hyderabad and Jamshoro so far,” he said.
Pakistani reports suggest that different factions of Pakistani Taliban frequently targeted Sufi shrines across Pakistan. More than 25 shrines across the country have been attacked since 2005, according to reports. Commissioner Hyderabad Kazi Shahid said since the shrine was located in a remote area, some 130 kms from Hyderabad, ambulances and vehicles and medical teams were being sent from Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Moro, Dadu and Nawabshah to the blast site to take care of the injured and move the bodies.
While talking to the media he said, “Emergency has been declared at hospitals in these places and rescue operations have started”.
On the other hand, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the Pakistan army had been requested to provide night flying helicopters to shift the dead and injured. “Yes it is a tragic incident and because the shrine is away from a major city there have been problems in providing rescue operations,” he said. Initial report suggests 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 said. Rescue officials said due to the non availability of adequate ambulances at the shrine the toll could rise.