At least 52 killed in blast in Pakistani shrine

Attack occurred in SW Balochistan province in shrine visited by thousands annually; more deaths feared.

Aamir Latif - KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - At least 52 people have been killed and over 100 injured in a massive blast at a shrine in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday evening, Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told reporters.

The blast occurred at the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Noorani located in the remote Lasbela district of southwestern Balochistan province, which is visited annually by thousands from across Pakistan.

There was no immediate word on the nature of the blast. However, local media quoting intelligence sources claimed that the blast was the act of a suicide bomber who detonated his explosive vest in the middle of a gathering in the shrine’s courtyard.

And President Mamnoon Hussain, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have condemned the terrorist attack .

The blast killed at least 30 people and injured over 100, Hakeem Laasi, an official of Edhi Foundation, a humanitarian relief agency engaged in the rescue operation, told reporters.

The Commissioner Kalat Hashim Gulzai, however, put the death toll at 25 and over 50 injured.

Laasi said many injured succumbed to their wounds as they could not be shifted to the hospital in time due to the remoteness of the site.

Several people were killed and injured due to a stampede caused by the blast, he said, adding that scores of injured were transported to the hospital in private vehicles by visitors who survived the attack.

Many bodies, and injured, he said, were still lying at the site due to a lack of ambulances.

Mushtaq Ahmed, a local journalist told Anadolu Agency by telephone that the death toll may rise over 500 people.

Rescue teams were facing difficulties in their operations due to darkness, and the mountainous nature of the site. Visitors generally have to walk and climb a hill to reach the shrine.

Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said that troops and medical teams were sent to join the rescue efforts.



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