Pak shrine bombings: Death toll climbs to 50

The suicide bombings tore through a crowded Sufi shrine in Punjab province.

Dera Ghazi Khan: The death toll rose to 50 on Monday after two suicide bombers unleashed carnage at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan where hundreds had gathered for a religious ceremony, officials said.

The bombers on Sunday struck the shrine of 13th century Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province, about 480 kilometres (300 miles) southwest of the capital Islamabad.

"We had 44 dead in our hospital. Six people died on the spot and their families took their bodies directly," said Tariq Mehmood, an emergency ward official at Civil Hospital in Dera Ghazi Khan.

Local police officer Zahid Hussain Shah confirmed a death toll of 49.

"Most of the bodies have been identified and sent to their home towns for burial," Shah said.

It was the deadliest suicide attack in Pakistan since a mosque bombing killed 68 people on November 05 in the northwest area of Darra Adam Khel.

Islamist militants have increasingly targeted Sufi worshippers, who follow a mystical strain of Islam, in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Dera Ghazi Khan is close to the tribal area which is known as a hub of Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants. The rugged tribal region is described by Washington as the most dangerous place on Earth and an al Qaeda headquarters.

More than 4,200 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on homegrown Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

Bureau Report

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