On Saturday, there was a powerful bomb explosion at a Sufi shrine within Southwestern Pakistan. At least 52 people were killed and 100 or more wounded. It is believed to be a suicide attack, which took place at Baluchistan’s Khuzdar district.
When the bombing occurred, there were hundreds of people worshipping inside the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Bilal Noorani. At the same time, a devotional dhamal dance was being performed by dozens of people. “Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamal here. And, there are large numbers of people who come for this”, says the shrine’s custodian, Nawaz Ali. In recent years, Sufi shrines and gatherings have been attacked by extremist Sunni groups, such as the Taliban. The extremists are against Sufi’s tolerant version of Islam.
One source says the attack was claimed by the Islamic State. This left some Pakistani officials skeptical. Instead, police officials have reason to believe that the bombing was in retaliation to a Pakistani anti-Shiite militant group leader being killed. The killing happened on Friday, at a shootout in Baluchistan. The victim was a key leader of Jundullah.
The Pakistani military sent at least 150 soldiers, along with 45 ambulances and four medical teams to the Sufi shrine, which is located in a remote region. A chief military spokesman for the Pakistani military, Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “Evacuation through aircraft is not possible, since there is no landing strip in the area.” They were going to attempt to transport the wounded people by helicopters. There are rescue workers that are continuing to search for survivors of the explosion, because a large number of devotees remained trapped inside the shrine. Many of the wounded victims were transported to Karachi, because the Sufi shrine is located closer to the southern Sindh Province.