Islamabad, November 12 (Dawn News): At least 30 people were killed and 70 were injured on Saturday evening in an explosion at the Sufi shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar district of Balochistan.
“30 people have been killed and 70 injured in the blast including women and children,” said Tehsildar Javed Iqbal.
The explosion took place at the spot where the Dhamaal (Sufi ritual) is performed, within the premises of the shrine.
“Every day, around sunset, there is a Dhamaal here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this,” said Nawaz Ali, the shrine’s custodian.
No group has yet taken responsibility of the attack.
Security forces have reached the spot of the incident. Emergency services are facing difficulty in reaching the site of the incident due to its remote location and poor communication infrastructure. The shrine is also located in hilly terrain, further adding to the difficulties being faced by emergency services.
Electricity services were also disrupted following the explosion, hampering rescue efforts further. Electric power to the shrine is supplied with generators, DawnNews reported.
“People who are critically injured in the blast will be transported to Karachi,” said Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti.
No major hospital is located near the shrine, reportedly the injured are being shifted in private vehicles.
An emergency has also been declared in hospitals of Khuzdar and Karachi. The only hospital in the district is Civil Hospital Khuzdar, which is not equipped to handle the scope of the emergency.
On instructions of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, around 50 ambulances have been dispatched from Karachi to the shrine.
President of National Party Mir Hasil Bizenjo said the death toll will increase if the federal or Sindh government do not provide helicopters for evacuating the injured.
“There are no helicopters available with the provincial government to evacuate the injured,” confirmed Anwar Kakar, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government.
While answering a question regarding security measures in Balochistan, Bugti said “If there is security lapse on part of the state, those responsible will be held accountable”.
The shrine is frequented by a large number of devotees on Friday, and is visited by people from across the country. Iranian nationals also frequent the shrine.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack on the shrine.
indh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has expressed his grief over the killing of innocents and condemned the blast at the shrine of Shah Norani.
In October, heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 61 people and wounding at least 117.
Three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent terrified young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.
Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group.
In August, a suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward at Quetta’s Civil Hospital killing at least 70 people and leaving scores injured, majority of those killed were lawyers.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), had claimed responsibility for the bombing which occurred at the gates of the building housing the emergency ward.
Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.
The largest province of the country by area, is home to a low-level insurgency by ethnic Baloch separatists. Al Qaeda-linked and sectarian militants also operate in the region. The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.