Pakistan: 20 tortured, murdered in Sufi shrine at Sargodha

The police have arrested the custodian of the shrine for further investigation.

20 tortured, murdered in Pakistan Sufi shrine
Men gather as rescue workers move the bodies of victims, who were killed in a Sufi shrine, on the outskirts of Sargodha, Pakistan April 2, 2017. Reuters

Pakistani police said on Sunday that 20 people were tortured and then murdered with clubs and knives at a shrine. This latest attack is purportedly carried out by the shrine's custodian and several accomplices.

Apart from those people, four other people were also wounded during the attack at the shrine on the edge of Sargodha, a remote town in the Punjab region. Liaqat Ali Chattha, deputy commissioner for the area, said that Abdul Waheed, the custodian of the shrine, called on the worshippers to visit the shrine and then attacked them with his accomplices.

"As they kept arriving, they were torturing and murdering them," Chattha told Geo TV.

Pervaiz Haider, a doctor in a Sargodha hospital, said most of the dead victims were hit on the back of the neck. "There are bruises and wounds inflicted by a club and dagger on the bodies of victims," he told Reuters.

Waheed has already been arrested by the police. According to Zulfiqar Hameed, Regional Police Officer for Sargodha, during the interrogation, the custodian said that he believed his victims were out to kill him. "Waheed told police that he killed the people because they had tried to kill him by poisoning him in the past, and again they were there to kill him," Hameed said.

Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that has been practised in Pakistan for centuries with its ancient hypnotic rituals. Recently, the extremist Sunni militants who consider them heretics have targeted a number of Sufi shrines. More than 80 worshippers were killed in a suicide bombing at a shrine in Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province.

Last November, an explosion ripped through another Sufi shrine, the Shah Noorani in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 52 people. The responsibility of the attack was claimed by the Islamic State.