A suicide attack in a popular shrine in southern Pakistan has killed at least 70 people.
“The bomber blew himself up among devotees in the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan, in Sindh province,’’ police said.
IS claims attack
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack, which has been claimed by so-called Islamic State.
A surge of attacks this week has shattered a period of improving security in Pakistan.
The shrine was crowded as Thursday is considered a sacred day for Muslims to pray there.
The blast, in one of the country’s most revered shrines, is the deadliest in a string of bombings in Pakistan this week, claimed by the Pakistan Taliban and other Islamist militants.
“At least 250 others were wounded,’’ a senior police official said. The only hospital in the area was said to be overwhelmed.
The critically injured were being sent by ambulance to Jamshoro and Hyderabad, some two hours away. The military said navy helicopters capable of flying at night would be sent to airlift the critically injured.
Prime Minister Sharif has vowed to fight the militants who have carried out attacks.
“The past few days have been hard, and my heart is with the victims.
“But we can’t let these events divide us, or scare us. We must stand united in this struggle for the Pakistani identity, and universal humanity,” he said in a statement.
Sufism has been practised in Pakistan for centuries. Most of the country’s radical Sunni militant groups despise the Sufis, as well as Shia Muslims, as heretics.
Two separate bombings in the country’s north-west killed at least seven people on Wednesday.
On Monday, at least 13 people died in a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Lahore. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, said it had carried out that attack.