At least 25 killed in blast at Muslim shrine in Pakistan

QUETTA (Pakistan) • An explosion at a Muslim shrine in south-western Pakistan yesterday killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, local officials said.

Mr Hashim Ghalzai, a local district commissioner, said that the toll was based on initial reports and could rise further.

The blast occurred at the Shah Noorani shrine, located in Balochistan province, about 100km north of the port city of Karachi. It took place while hundreds of people were inside, said Mr Ghalzai.

Dozens of wounded people were being moved to the nearby town of Hub and to Karachi, rescue official Hakeem Nasi told Pakistan's Geo TV channel.

The government dispatched 25 ambulances from Hub to the shrine, said Mr Akbar Harifal, provincial home secretary for Balochistan.

"Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal (ritual dance) here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this,"said Mr Nawaz Ali, the shrine's custodian.

Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has seen some of the worst militant attacks in Pakistan this year. It is a poor, underdeveloped region in spite of reserves of copper, gold and gas.

Different factions of the Taleban and groups with affiliations to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), operate in the northern part of the province.

The south is dominated by separatist groups such as the Baloch Republican Army fighting for Balochistan's independence.

The province is also key to a US$46 billion (S$65 billion) transport and trade corridor between Pakistan and China, which hinges on a deep-water port in the south-western city of Gwadar.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'At least 25 killed in blast at Muslim shrine in Pakistan'. Print Edition | Subscribe