Sufi shrine
A man adorns the marble walls of the Daata Darbar Sufi shrine with roses in Lahore [representational image]Reuters

At least 20 people were murdered and four others injured at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Punjab province, near Sargodha city, in the early hours of Sunday (2 April), according to police.

The police said they had arrested three suspects, including the custodian of the Ali Mohammad Gujjar shrine, Abdul Waheed.

Deputy Commissioner of Sargodha city, Liaquat Ali Chatta, said Waheed had made phone calls to the victims and asked them to come to the shrine.
Chatta told Geo News that the custodian and his accomplices first drugged the devotees and then tortured them with machetes and batons, leading to their death.

According to GeoTV, two women and many men managed to escape from the shrine in a wounded condition. One of the survivors told about the attack to locals who in turn alerted the police. The report also said that the bodies were found unclothed.

One survivor said Waheed had called them into his chamber and given them poisoned food. The victims were then killed with a stick and dagger, the BBC reported.

Local police rushed to the shrine and arrested Waheed after a wounded woman at a nearby hospital raised alarm. When police reached the location, he was found sitting outside the shrine.

"There were no survivors. He drugged everyone who was at the shrine," local police officer Shaukat Manzoor told Al Jazeera.

Regional police officer Zulfiqar Hameed was quoted by the AFP as saying: "The 50-year-old shrine custodian Abdul Waheed has confessed that he killed these people because he feared that they had come to kill him."

Hameed added that the suspect appeared to be paranoid and psychotic or that it could be linked to some rivalry over the shrine's control.

Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif ordered the police to submit a report on the incident in the next 24 hours.