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19 killed in Jhal Magsi shrine attack

October 06, 2017

QUETTA / DERA MURAD JAMALI: A suicide attacker blew himself up at the entrance to the shrine of Pir Rakhyal Shah in the Fatehpur area of Jhal Magsi district on Thursday, killing at least 19 people and injuring over 30 others.

This is the second attack at the shrine, located some 350km east of Quetta in the Nasirabad division. In March 2005, over 50 people were killed and more than 70 injured in a bomb blast on the shrine premises.

Sharing details of the carnage with the media, Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti said: “It was a suicide bombing, which claimed 18 lives and injured many others, including women and children.”

The attacker detonated an explosives-laden jacket at the entrance to the shrine after a policeman tried to stop him, he said.

Policeman dies as suicide bomber detonates vest while being frisked

No militant outfit claimed responsibility for the bombing till late night.

Official sources said that several hundred devotees from various parts of Balochistan and Sindh had arrived at the shrine to participate in the congregation held every 15th day of the Islamic calendar. “The devotees were still gathering at the shrine when the powerful explosion occurred,” Elahi Bakhsh, a journalist from Jhal Magsi, told Dawn.

The sources said that the suicide attacker detonated his vest while the police constable frisked him at the entrance, killing six people on the spot, including the police constable.

The blast was so powerful that it was heard several kilometres away from the blast site. The bodies of the victims were scattered in a 200-metre radius.

Following the attack, law enforcement personnel along with rescue workers arrived at the scene and took the bodies and those injured to the district hospital.

“We have received 16 bodies and over 30 injured at Jhal Magsi District Hospital,” Rukhsana Magsi, the Jhal Magsi District Health Officer said, adding that two of those injured later succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.

Nasirabad Division Commissioner Ahmed Aziz Tarar, who also arrived at Jhal Magsi following the attack, feared that the death toll could rise as the condition of some of those injured was precarious. He said those who were seriously injured had been taken to Dera Murad Jamali and Sindh for treatment.

“A police constable sacrificed his life and saved those gathered inside the shrine,” Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, spokesman for the Balochistan government, told Dawn.

Police officials said the head of the suicide bomber had been found lying in the area. Sharjeel Khokar, the deputy inspector general of police in Nasirabad Region, visited the site of the explosion and said that the police constables had performed their duty admirably by not allowing the suicide bomber to enter the shrine, and in doing so, had saved the lives of hundreds of other people.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2017