IS claims responsibility for Pakistan shrine attack, says devotional practices were against Islam

The incident took place when devotees gathered around the shrine to take part in a religious ceremony.

Pakistan mosque suicide bombing: Death toll in rises to 36, including 8 children
Picture for representation Reuters

IS, on Sunday, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Balochistan province, which claimed at least 52 lives, via its affiliated news agency Amaq.

The terrorist organisation said that a suicide bomber targeted the shrine as they believed its practices were against Islam.

The shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani, which is located some 750 kilometres south of Quetta, was revered and visited by both Shiites and Sunni Minorities which antagonised militant groups like the Taliban and Islamic State (IS).

However, the fact that it was a suicide attack was not immediately confirmed by the provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti.

The incident took place when devotees gathered around the shrine to take part in a religious ceremony. People were enjoying the devotional dance session, which is held daily at dusk, which the strong blast shook the place. An eyewitness, according to AFP, said that he was sitting on a hillside watching the evening's dance and when suddenly heard a loud noise and saw smoke rising from the shrine.

"We realised that it was a bomb blast. Two of us rushed down and saw the bodies scattered all around - mostly children. We also saw the drum beater dead and his exploded drum were lying nearby," said Hafeez Ali, a 26-year-old mechanic from Karachi, according to the news agency. Ali also informed that the shrine, is situated in a remote place and people have to climb hills for half an hour to go there. This created enormous difficulty for the rescuers as no road goes till blast place.

"At least 52 people have been killed and some 105 others wounded," said Bugti, as reported.

Around 20 ambulances and 50 soldiers were deployed to the site to carry on the rescue operation as soon as the blast took place, following which 45 ambulances and 100 troops were dispatched. Military tried to carry out rescue operation with a helicopter, however, there were no airstrips close by and the evacuation attempt remained futile.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif both condemned the attack on the shrine which had around 600 people that evening.

"The government is determined to eliminate terrorism and extremists from the country," said Hussain as he extended his condolences to the victims' families. The Prime Minister also promised in a statement that the "best medical treatment" will be given to the wounded.