South-west Pakistan: Death Toll of Fatehpur Shrine Suicide Attack Rises to 22

South-west Pakistan: Death Toll of Fatehpur Shrine Suicide Attack Rises to 22

IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: Devotees gather around the bodies of blast victims after a suicide bombing near a Sufi shrine in the Gandawa area of Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan on October 5, 2017. / Source: AFP / WARNING: Viewer Discretion Advised

Image Attribute: Devotees gather around the bodies of blast victims after a suicide bombing near a Sufi shrine in the Gandawa area of Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan on October 5, 2017. / Source: AFP / WARNING: Viewer Discretion Advised

Pakistani officials say a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Sufi shrine in southwest Pakistan on October 5.  Killing 22 people including three children under the age of 12 and two policemen, and wounding at least 27 others, 14 of them seriously, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The attack took place in the Jhal Magsi district, which is located about 300 kilometers east of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province. A bombing at the same shrine in 2005 killed 35 people.

 Map Attribute: Dargah Fatehpur, Off Gandawa Road, Jhal Magsi District, 300 km East of Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan / Source: Google Maps / Latitude & Longitude: 28.5710065, 67.4967752

Map Attribute: Dargah Fatehpur, Off Gandawa Road, Jhal Magsi District, 300 km East of Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan / Source: Google Maps / Latitude & Longitude: 28.5710065, 67.4967752

Pakistani security forces cordoned off the area and TV footage showed ambulances arriving at the scene of the blast. Anwarul Haq Kakar, the spokesman for the provincial government, said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition. The injured were transferred to DHQ hospital for treatment with the local administration declaring an emergency at hospitals in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamali.

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said the shrine was holding its annual Urs and hundreds of devotees from all over the country had come to the place to pay their respects to their revered Sufi saint, Syed Cheesal Shah. They also gather every Thursday to participate in a Sufi dance called ‘dhamaal’ and prayers. 

The attacker detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped for a routine search by the police constable Bahar Khan who was guarding the gates of Dargah Fatehpur shrine. No local group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Image Attribute: Official photograph of Police Constable Bahar Khan released by the local authorities. He has been killed during the attack / Source: Geo News

Image Attribute: Official photograph of Police Constable Bahar Khan released by the local authorities. He has been killed during the attack / Source: Geo News 

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack, saying in a statement that "terrorists have no religion." He also said that his government will act against the perpetrators with full force.

In February, militants of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Sindh Province in which 88 people were killed.

Several million Muslims in Pakistan are still believed to follow Sufism, a branch of Islam espouses a mystical inner belief and incorporates music in its worship. Eventually, it helped spread the religion throughout the Indian subcontinent in the 13th century. However, it has been rejected as heretical by IS militants and other extremists, who hold a fundamentalist view of Islam.

The resource-rich Balochistan Province -- which borders Afghanistan and Iran -- has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by GEO TV, AP, Dawn, AFP, and Dunya TV
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