At least 55 people, including several women and children, were killed in suicide bombing at Shah Noorani Dargah in Pakistan's Balochistan province on Saturday, November 12. The death toll is likely to increase as at least 150 people have been rushed to nearby hospitals with serious injuries.
The initial death toll was pegged at 10, before it rose to 25, and then 30, before local news sources said that 55 people had died in the blast. According to reports, the suicide bomber was a 14-year-old boy.
While the authorities are yet to announce the exact cause of the explosion, local news reports say they have inside information from the investigators that it was a suicide blast. However, no terror group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack, and ordered local authorities to take appropriate action in this regard.
Difficulty in transporting the injured
The Pakistani police and the Frontier Corps have reached the spot and are helping in search and rescue operations. They have also cordoned off the blast area. However, they are reportedly facing hardships in their work because of the difficult terrain and absence of ambulances in the area.
The shrine is located high in the mountains of Balochistan, and although many people from surrounding areas and some from as far as Karachi — which is 200 km away — often go to the shrine, the roads are not too conducive for smooth and fast-paced travel, and there is a severe lack of ambulance services there. Additionally, helicopters became unusable in the area as night descended.
Meanwhile, local sources say all hospitals in the vicinity of Shah Noorani Dargah have been put on alert over incoming injured people. The local government has also issued two emergency numbers for people to get information: +92 81 9202110 and +92 81 9201002.
Blast occurred at Sufi gathering
The high number of casualties is said to be the result of a large gathering of devotees who had gone to the 500-year-old shrine to attend prayers. They had gone there to witness the Sufi dance "dhamaal" there. Unofficial sources put the number of devotees present at the shrine at 500.
The toll is expected to increase, with many others said to have been severely injured in the explosion. The total number of injured is currently pegged at 150.
Pakistan has seen several religious places targeted by extremists in recent times, like when a blast in a mosque led to the death of 25 people in September.