THE Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility behind Saturday’s bomb blast at a Sufi shrine that killed at least 35 people and wounded nearly 100 in Pakistan’s southwest.
A statement released by the group’s news agency said the attack killed 35 Shia muslims while dozens more were injured in the attack on the shrine in the Baluchistan province, Reuters reported.
“Thirty-five visitors of the Shia shrine were killed and 95 injured in a martyrdom attack by Islamic State fighters targeting the shrine,” the statement said.
Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister for Baluchistan province, confirmed that the blast occurred with hundreds in attendance at the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Bilal Noorani.
“People who are critically injured in the blast will be transported to Karachi,” Sarfaraz said.
“Our focus is on rescue services at the moment. We can’t be certain about the exact number of casualties and the nature of the attack that took place today,” he added.
He said rescue efforts were ongoing.
Abdul Hakim Lasi, an official with the Edhi Foundations rescue service that arrived at the scene, said at least 30 were killed in the attack.
Ambulances faced difficulties reaching the scene due to the remoteness of the site.
Pakistan Today quoted Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah as saying that 50 additional ambulances were dispatched from Karachi, some 150 kilometers away from the shrine.
Quoting police sources, Pakistan Today reported that the suicide attack was out by a 14-year-old boy.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was saddened by the tragedy and expressed hope that emergency services would reach and treat the wounded swiftly.
Islamic militants have previously targeted the Baluchistan province, which for over a decade has been the scene of a low-intensity insurgency by nationalist and separatist groups demanding a bigger share of regional resources.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press