Karachi: At least 43 people, including women and children, were killed and more than 100 others injured today in a suicide bombing at a popular sufi shrine in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, an attack claimed by the Islamic State terror group.
The blast occurred in the remote Hub region in Khuzdar district of the province while devotees were participating in a Sufi dance called "dhamaal" at Dargah Shah Noorani.
"43 people have died and dozens injured in the incident," Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti said.
"People who are critically injured in the blast will be transported to Karachi," Bugti was quoted as saying by DawnNews.
The target of the attack was the area where believers would perform 'dhamaal'. The blast site is situated some 250km away from Karachi.
The blast happened when about 500 to 600 devotees were present at shrine.
Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack via Amaq news agency.
"35 dead and 95 wounded Shiite visitors in...Operation attack by the Islamic State fighter that targeted a shrine in a city in Balochistan," the agency said.
The Express Tribune quoted police sources as saying that the blast was a suicide attack carried out by a 14-year-old boy. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Rescue teams reached the blast site and started shifting the deceased and injured to the hospital. However, rescuers were facing difficulty in accessing the site as the shrine is located in a remote area.
The death toll is feared to rise and women and children were among those killed in the blast.
"The shrine is located some 250 kilometres from Karachi in the remote mountains of Uthal and our vehicles have been dispatched there to carry out rescue operations and shift the injured to the hospitals," said Hakeen Lassi, an official of the Edhi Trust Foundation.
Local tehsildar Javed Iqbal said security arrangements at the shrine were not proper.
"It is sad that although thousands of devotees from Karachi and other parts of the country visit the shrine everyday but there are no medical emergency facilities or ambulances at the site," he said.
He said the devotees take part in the 'dhamaal' everyday after sunset and the blast took place close to where they were dancing inside the compound of the shrine.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the bomb blast. They directed the concerned authorities to speed up the rescue activities and provide best medical facilities to the injured.
This is not the first time that extremists have targeted a shrine in Balochistan. This is the third major incident of a bombing in the province since August.
In August, about 70 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack outside the civil hospital in the provincial capital Quetta. Last month, 64 police cadets and two army men were killed when three terrorists raided a police training centre in Quetta.