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At least 70 killed in shrine bombing in Pakistan

February 16, 2017

The "Islamic State" has taken responsibility for the deadly attack at a shrine in the southern Pakistani province Sindh. The bombing is the latest in a wave of attacks.

Pakistan Schrein Lal Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan
Image: picture alliance / dpa

In addition to the more than 70 people killed, over 100 worshippers were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the packed shrine of Lal Shahbaz on Thursday, a sacred day of the week when the holy site is packed with worshippers participating in the weekly devotional dance of Dhamal. 

Lal Shahbaz Qalander, named after a 13th-century saint of the same name, is the country's most important shrine in Sufism, an ancient and mystical branch of Islam.

Karte Pakistan Sehwan Sindh ENG DEU

Limited emergency services exist in the shrine's location of Sehwan. Local government official Munawar Ali said rescue personnel were prioritizing transporting victims to the main hospital some 130 kilometers away (81 miles).

Officials fear the death toll could rise even higher.

The Islamic State (IS) took responsibility for the deadly bombing through their Aamaq news agency.

Pakistan Schrein Lal Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan
Hundreds of worshipers come to the shrine on Thursday (archive photo)Image: Getty Images/AFP/Y. Nagori

Prime Minister Sharif condemns the attack

Thebombing is the latest in a series of deadly attacks carried out by various rival Sunni militant organizations, including the small but increasingly influential IS and the Pakistani Taliban, who often target the nation's Shi'ite Muslims and Sufi minority. The country's Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing on Monday thatkilled 13 individuals in the major city of Lahore

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the shrine attack on Pakistan's Sufi minority and promised to fight the country's Islamist militant threat.

"We can't let these events divide us, or scare us. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity," Sharif said.

cmb/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, DPA)