Sui­cide bomber kills 20 in Pak­istan

Fort McMurray Today - - WORLD NEWS - AB­DUL SAT­TAR

QUETTA, Pak­istan — A sui­cide bomber struck a Shi­ite shrine packed with wor­ship­pers in a re­mote vil­lage in south­west­ern Pak­istan on Thurs­day, killing 20 peo­ple and leav­ing at least 25 wounded, a pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment spokesman and the po­lice said.

Within hours, the Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

The bomber det­o­nated his ex­plo­sives vest when he was stopped for a rou­tine search by a po­lice of­fi­cer guard­ing the shrine in the vil­lage of Jhal Masgi, about 400 km east of Quetta, the cap­i­tal of Baluchis­tan prov­ince.

An­warul Haq Kakar, spokesman for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, said the death toll could rise fur­ther as some of the wounded re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Mo­ham­mad Iqbal, a district po­lice chief, said five chil­dren, a woman and one po­lice of­fi­cer were among those 20 peo­ple killed in the bomb­ing. He said they found body parts of the at­tacker and in­ves­ti­ga­tors were try­ing to de­ter­mine who was be­hind the bomb­ing.

Sar­fraz Bugti, the pro­vin­cial home min­is­ter, said “ter­ror­ists have shown their in­hu­mane­ness by at­tack­ing in­no­cent civil­ians” at the shrine.

Atif Ali Shah, the cus­to­dian of the shrine, told re­porters that had the at­tacker man­aged to en­ter the shrine, there would have been many more ca­su­al­ties. The po­lice of­fi­cer who stopped the bomber and other guards who rushed to the scene “saved many lives,” he said.

Hun­dreds of devo­tees were present at the shrine for a monthly gath­er­ing when the bomber hit. Lo­cal TV footage showed peo­ple cry­ing for help in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the at­tack.

Just hours ear­lier, Pak­istani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said the mil­i­tary had re­ceived cred­i­ble re­ports of up­com­ing ter­ror at­tacks. Ghafoor told a news con­fer­ence in the gar­ri­son city of Rawalpindi that the gov­ern­ment has been alerted about pos­si­ble at­tacks.

The claim by the IS af­fil­i­ate in Pak­istan came later Thurs­day, in a state­ment posted on the Is­lamic State-linked Aa­maq news agency.

IS and other Sunni ex­trem­ists per­ceive Shi­ites as apos­tates who should be killed and have car­ried out many such at­tacks in the past, tar­get­ing mi­nor­ity Shi­ite Mus­lims in Baluchis­tan and else­where in the coun­try.

Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi con­demned the at­tack, say­ing that “ter­ror­ists have no re­li­gion” and that his gov­ern­ment will act against mil­i­tants with full might.

In June, at least 75 Shi­ite Mus­lims were killed in twin bomb­ings at a mar­ket in Parachi­nar in the coun­try’s north­west. At the time, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sec­tar­ian Sunni ex­trem­ist group, claimed the bomb­ings in Parachi­nar, which is a ma­jor­ity Shi­ite town.

In Fe­bru­ary, an Is­lamic State sui­cide bomber struck in­side a famed Sufi shrine in south­ern Sindh prov­ince, killing 88 wor­ship­pers as they per­formed a de­vo­tional dance known as “dhamal.”

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