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Pakistan: 100 killed in blast at Sindh’s Shahbaz Qalandar shrine; ISIS-claimed responsibility

An alleged suicide bomber blew himself up near the gate of the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh province of Pakistan late Thursday evening. The incident killed at least 100 people and injured over 250. As per the police, the blast happened during a Sufi ritual called Dhamaal, when hundreds of devotees were present inside the place.

At least 100 people had died in the attack, confirmed the Hospital staff. The Pakistani army chief reacted strongly to the attack, saying the nation’s forces would retaliate every drop of Pakistani blood and that limitation would not be shown for anyone.

The ISIS claimed responsibility for the incident via its Aamaq news agency. It said a suicide bomber had targeted a “Shiite gathering” at the shrine in Sindh and also released a picture purportedly of the bomber.

The European Union condemned the attack with a spokesperson of the the EU’s diplomatic service, European External Action Service, saying, “We express our condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured. We are determined to stand by Pakistan in fighting all forms of terrorism and will continue to strengthen our cooperation with Pakistan in this regard.”

The United Nations also released a statement that quoted Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ as saying, “The United Nations supports the government of Pakistan in its fight against terrorism in full respect of international and human rights norms.” “We call for the perpetrators of this attack to be brought to justices swiftly,” added the statement.

The US condemned the attack as well. “We stand with the people of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism and remain committed to the security of the South Asia region,” acting State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said, adding, “We will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan and our partners across the region to combat the threat of terrorism.”

Hours after the attack, Major General Asif Ghafoor – the spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces said in a tweet, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Border closed with immediate effects till further orders due to security reasons.”

Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers. 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. “Ambulances have been rushed from Hyderabad and other close by places like Nawabshah, Moro, Dadu,” Wilayat said.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered immediate rescue operation and government announced emergency in the hospitals of the nearby Jamshooro and Hyderabad districts. Television channels reported that dead bodies and injured were lying inside the shrine.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. The attack on shrine came a day after Pakistan vowed to “liquidate” all those elements posing a threat to peace and security in the country amid a spurt in terror attacks.

The decision was taken at high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday to review the security situation in the country.

“The meeting made a resolve that terrorism emanating within the country or executed and harboured from outside the country would be eliminated and those posing threat to peace and security of the country would be liquidated by the might of the state,” according to an official statement.

Terrorists have carried out attacks in Lahore, Mohmand agency, Peshawar and Quetta within a week.

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