At least 70 people were killed and scores wounded in a suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan area of Jamshoro in Sindh province Thusrday evening, rescuers and police officials said.
According to the ASP Sehwan, the suicide bomber entered the compound from the shrine’s Golden Gate and blew himself up amid devotees performing ‘dhamaal’ (a mystic dance).
Inspector General of Police Sindh AD Khawaja put the number of casualties around 70.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack via it Amaq website. The shrine was packed when the bomber hit, as a large number of people frequent it on Thursdays.
A statement released by the military’s media wing said terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan were conducting attacks in Pakistan. “We would defend our country and give a befitting response to the enemies” at whose behest these attacks were being carried out on Pakistani soil, the ISPR statement added.
Assisted by army and Rangers personnel, rescuers ferried the injured, among them children and women, to Civil Hospital Jamshoro and People’s Medical Hospital where an emergency was declared.
Many of them were taken to hospitals in Hyderabad and Karachi in view of their critical condition, while Combined Military Hospital Hyderabad was also alerted to receive casualties, after orders from Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) C-130 aircraft was tasked to airlift 130 injured from the Nawabshah airport, from where a navy helicopter airlifted them, said the Inter-Services Public Relations.
COAS Bajwa, in a statement, asked the nation to remain calm and exercise restraint. He said the Pakistani military won’t let the enemies succeed in their ulterior designs.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah condemned the bombing as “unfortunate” and “cowardly act”. The CM, immediately after the bombing, telephoned the senior civil and police officials of the district and instructed them to reach the shrine. He also issued directives to the district and local administration to perform rescue operation swiftly and ensure immediate treatment to the patients at the hospitals.
“There was a huge crowd gathered there for the [religious gathering] at the shrine, and there was a very big explosion,” said Sikandar Mandhro, Sindh’s health minister. “The medical facilities at Sehwan are not equipped to deal with a very big emergency, so our first priority right now is to get help to the wounded,” he added.
The custodian of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, Sajjad Sabzwari, told Pakistan Today that no help reached them even two hours after the bombing. He said there were only two doctors and five nurses in entire Jamshoro district.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the terrorist attack, and vowed to crush terrorists for preserving peace across the country. He said that an attack on a single Pakistani was an attack on all Pakistanis.
Former president and Pakistan People’s Party co-chief Asif Ali Zardari condemned the bombing, and ordered his party’s provincial government to provide best possible treatment to the injured. He also offered heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families for their irreparable losses.
Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto condemned the suicide bombing at the shrine and called it a ‘cowardly’ act.
Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, while condemning the bombing, called a report from Inspector General of Police Sindh AD Khawaja about the bomb blast at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine. He also announced emergency in hospitals and ordered authorities to provide better medical facilities to the injured.
The governor expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of lives and injuries in the blast. He said that Sindh was the land of Sufis where terrorists had targeted pilgrims in a bid to gain their nefarious designs. “This attack is tantamount to an attack on the whole nation,” he added. The governor also prayed for early recovery of those injured in the blast, and vowed to crush the elements involved in the attack.
Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned the terrorist attack. The minister offered condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for early recovery of those injured in the assault.
The shrine is situated slightly off the Super Highway in Dadu district. Sehwan in Jamshoro is the constituency of Sindh chief minister.
Meanwhile, the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen announced a province-wide strike against the suicide bombing at the shrine of saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar on Friday (today).
Thursday’s blast is the latest in a series of attacks across Pakistan since Monday, when 13 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a rally in the eastern city of Lahore.
That attack was followed on Wednesday by a suicide bombing at a government office in the Mohmand tribal area and a suicide attack on government employees in Peshawar, killing six people in total.
Two police officers were also killed on Tuesday while trying to defuse a bomb in the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta.