SHAFAQNA – Dozens have reportedly been killed in a powerful blast that hit one of the most revered Muslim shrines in southwestern Pakistan, local media reports. Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.
A huge explosion hit the Shah Noorani Shrine located in the Khuzdar District of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan.
The incident occurred during a religious dance in the shrine – a ceremony attended by dozens of people on a daily basis.
According to eyewitnesses cited by local media, at least 500 people were in the shrine at the moment of the blast.
The total number of casualties is still unknown, although various media give conflicting reports concerning the initial death toll. According to the Pakistani Samaa TV channel, the blast claimed the lives of 15 people and injured many more, while a journalist from ARY news reports that at least ten people were killed in the incident and another 30 were injured.
Sources in the rescue services confirmed to Pakistani Dunya news that the death toll has reached 30, adding that the number of injured so far amounts to 95.
Provincial Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed that the death toll has reached 45 while a local district commissioner Hashim Ghalzai said that more than 100 people were wounded in the incident, Reuters reported.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, as reported by Reuters.
Women and children were among those killed and injured in the blast. A rescue team and security services are having difficulty reaching the scene, as the shrine is located in a remote mountainous area hundreds of kilometers away from the southern Pakistani port-city of Karachi.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to the victims and their families, as reported by the Express Tribune.
The bomb attack on the shrine comes less than a month after another terrorist attack that hit the Pakistani province of Balochistan. On October 24, a gunman stormed a police training facility in Balochistan’s largest city of Quetta, taking hundreds of cadets hostage. About 60 people died in that incident and over 100 were injured.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack. In August, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Quetta’s Civil Hospital. That attack claimed the lives of 70 people.