Over 70 killed in Pakistan shrine blast, IS claims attack
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Local media said that death toll of a suicide attack in Pakistan's southern Sehwan area rose to over 70, and over 200 injured. The militant group of "Islamic State" (IS) claimed the attack.
IS said on its Arabic Amaq website that a bomber "exploded his vest in a gathering of Shia Muslims at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Pakistan's south Sindh province."
This is the second time when IS claimed an attack targeting a shrine in Pakistan over the last three months.
Earlier on Nov. 12 last year, at least 52 people were killed and over 100 others injured when an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in a shrine in the country's southwest Balochistan province.
Rasool Bux, Senior House Officer Police, said that the Thursday's blast took place at about 7:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) when a suicide bomber entered the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine from the crowded golden gate and blew himself up in a group of people performing Dhamal (Sufi dance) inside the compound.
He said an estimated 500 to 800 people coming from different parts of the country were inside the shrine when the attack occurred.
In a tweet, Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general Inter-Services Public Relations, the army's media wing, said the army chief has directed army and paramilitary troops rangers to provide assistance to the blast victims.
Asif added that a contingent of army troops has been dispatched to Sehwan with medical facilities and the military hospital in Hyderabad has also been put on high alert.
The army has also provided night vision helicopters from the navy and a C-130 plane for airlifting the critically injured people to hospitals in Karachi, capital of Sindh province.
Heavy contingent of police reached the blast site and cordoned it off for investigations shortly after the blast was reported.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack and directed the departments concerned to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people.