SAHIWAL, Oct 25 A bomb exploded at the gate of the shrine of famous Sufi Baba Farid Ganjshakar in Pakpattan, killing four people and injuring 13 others. The bomb placed in a milk container attached to a motorbike was detonated by a remote- control.
The attack was the third on a major shrine in the country over the past four months and fifth since 2007.
Earlier this month, two suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up at the mausoleum of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi, killing eight people and injuring 65.
A suicide attack on Data Darbar in Lahore in July claimed more than 40 lives.
The Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad and the Rehman Baba shrine in Peshawar were attacked by terrorists in January 2007 and March 2009, respectively.
Security officials said that in Monday's attack, terrorists exploded the bomb near the Noori Gate of the 12th century shrine immediately after Fajr prayers.
A witness said that two men had parked the motorcycle near the gate and minutes later the blast took place.
Police cordoned off the shrine and sealed it till further orders. No-one claimed responsibility for attack, but in the past Taliban militants have been blamed for such attacks.
Police and Rescue 1122 sources said that four people, including two women, had died.
The attack on the revered shrine sparked protests all over the country and demonstrations were held in various cities and towns. The Sunni Ittehad Council announced a three-day mourning.
Those who died in the blast were identified as Sardaran Bibi, Shakoran Bibi Muhammad Hanif and Mubarik Ali.
Muhammad Razaq who lives near the shrine said the casualty was low because there were not many people around the shrine and all shops were closed at that time. Devotees mostly come during the day and in the evening. He said the blast damaged shops near the shrine.
He said that there were two police checkpoints along the market on both sides of the road leading to the eastern gate of the shrine, but no-one checked the motorcycle parked by the terrorists.
Rescue 1122 staff reached the place before police and took the bodies and the injured to the DHQ Hospital in Pakpattan.
Abdul Qayum Naeemi, community officer of Rescue 1122, told Dawn that doctors at the emergency arrived an hour after the first batch of the injured was taken to the hospital.
Five of the seriously injured were referred to the Sahiwal DHQ Hospital and Lahore. One of them, Shakooran Bibi, died on way to Sahiwal.
Civil defence personnel started scanning the site five hours after of blast because they did not have scanners.
“We have written several times to senior officials requesting for scanners, but to little avail,” one civil defence official said.
It is learnt that 10 newly-installed CCTV cameras in and outside the shrine's premises were not functioning.
Punjab IGP Tariq Saleem Dogar and Multan regional police officer Amjad Saleemi visited the blast site and the shrine was sealed a little later.
When asked why police at the checkpoints did not stop the motorcyclists, the IGP said “Police cannot be all points all the time.”
He said that a team had been set up to investigate the attack. It will submit its report within a week.
Pakpattan DPO Muhammad Kashif told Dawn that around 30 policemen had been deputed at the shrine.
The Pakpattan mausoleum is said to be the second most revered Sufi shrine in the country after Data Darbar in Lahore.