SHIKARPUR: Fifty-three people were killed and over four dozen wounded when a powerful bomb went off at a Shikarpur Imambargah minutes before Friday prayers, officials and witnesses said.
They said that the blast occurred at Masjid-o-Imambargah Karbala-i-Moulla near Lakhi Gate when hundreds of people were listening to the Friday sermon before offering prayers.
Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar told Dawn that “close to 60” people were killed.
While the Sindh government declared a ‘day of mourning’, Shia organisations — Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Jaffria Alliance and Shia Ulema Council — gave a province-wide strike call for Saturday. The strike call was backed by many parties.
Protests erupted all over Karachi as angry youths blocked main roads in every district in protest over the carnage. A truck was also torched on Sharea Faisal.
Following the explosion, the roof of the two-storey mosque caved in, burying many wounded under the rubble.
Witnesses said that the area was scattered with blood and flesh and it smelt of burnt meat.
Area people rushed to the scene, pulled people from the debris and shifted them to the Civil Hospital Shikarpur on a self-help basis in cars, rickshaws and motorcycles.
Bomb blast in Imambargah during Friday prayers
While a state of emergency was declared at the Shikarpur hospital, the shortage of doctors and medicines forced the administration to shift many wounded to Larkana’s Chandka Medical College Hospital and Ghulam Muhammad Medical College Hospital in Sukkur.
Ali Hassan Luhar Baloch, who was wounded in the blast and shifted to Larkana for treatment, told reporters that there was no police security at the Imambargah. “I was in the second row [when the blast occurred] and suddenly there was blood and blood around me.”
Alidino Siyal, a resident of Shikarpur, said that usually about 1,000 people came to offer Friday prayers. He said that it was a third consecutive Friday when he saw no security at the Imambargah.
Another Shikarpur resident, Mohabbat Ali Bablani, said four of his cousins, aged between 30 and 40, were killed in the blast while his friend lost five children, all under 13.
Police were unsure whether it was a suicide bombing or someone had planted the bomb with a timer or detonated it through a remote-controlled device.
“We are trying to ascertain the nature of the blast,” Shikarpur police chief Saqib Ismail Memon told Reuters. “A bomb disposal squad is examining the scene.”
However, DSP Tahir Malik of the bomb disposal squad told Dawn that around five or seven kilograms of explosives were used and it appeared that the device was kept in some plastic bag.
According to Reuters, Jundullah, a splinter group of the Taliban which last year pledged support for the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility of the attack. “Our target was the Shia mosque ... They are our enemies,” said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesman.
Talking to Dawn on Friday night, Health Minister Dahar said that the exact number of causalities was being ascertained by the district administration.
“We also requested the federal government for a C-130 aircraft so that some critically wounded could be shifted to Karachi. Our request has been accepted and I hope they would be shifted to Karachi hospitals within the next few hours,” he said.
Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015