A deadly suicide blast outside a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Balochistan area killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 30 others on Thursday (5 October).
The suicide bomber blew himself up when he was intercepted by guards at the Dargah Pir Rakhel Shah in Fatehpur town in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan, Home Secretary Akbar Harifal told local media.
This was reportedly the second attack this year on a shrine in Pakistan. More than 80 people were killed in an attack in February that targeted the busy Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan town in Sindh province. More than 250 people were injured in that attack.
"A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was intercepted by police guards on duty outside the shrine, killing 18 people including three children under the age of 12 and two policemen, and wounding at least 27 others, 14 of them seriously," Harifal said of the Thursday attack, according to Pakistan's Geo TV.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti reportedly confirmed the death toll. He told DawnNews that "if he [the attacker] had managed to enter the dargah, the death toll would have been much higher".
All the injured were taken to different hospitals in Quetta and Larkana cities for treatment.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack on the shrine, stating that terrorists have no religion and those who kill people of Balochistan are enemies of the state.
The attack reportedly came as Pakistani security forces intensified their anti-terrorist offensive in the country. When Bugti was asked if the government had any intelligence on possible terrorist attack on the shrine, he said: "We are in a war zone. We [share] a porous border with Afghanistan. Keeping all these factors in mind, our security forces ensured a peaceful Moharram and they will continue to fight terrorism in Balochistan."
Local officials said that the blast took place when the shrine was crowded with devotees for the evening prayers and a bi-monthly celebration.
The Pir Rakhel Shah shrine was attacked by terrorists earlier on 19 March 2005, when at least 35 people were killed and many injured in a similar suicide attack, Dawn reported.