A series of attacks in Karachi leave at least 17 dead as security forces struggle to gain control of the city.
|Two explosions took place on Thursday evening, typically the busiest time at the Sufi shrine [AFP]|
At least seven people have been killed and 60 others injured in two explosions at a busy Sufi Muslim shrine in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
One blast took place at the entrance to the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in the Clifton district on Thursday and a second occurred inside the compound, sources said.
At least one of the explosions appeared to have been caused by a suspected suicide bomber.
“We have provided the best available security at this shrine,” Zulfiqar Mirza, the interior minister for Sindh province, said.
“Humanly, it is not possible to stop suicide bombers intent on exploding themselves.”
Mirza said that other shrines in the coastal city had been closed to prevent further attacks.
Pools of blood
TV footage showed pools of blood at the scene, while people helped two wounded victims get to an ambulance. Police were cordoning off the area.
Hassam Uddin, a witness, told The Associated Press news agency that two blasts occurred near the main entrance and that he saw 18 to 20 critically wounded people lying on the ground.
Mohibullah Khan, a 38-year-old manual labourer, said he was about to visit the shrine after evening prayers at a nearby mosque when the explosions occurred.
“I heard a huge bang and smoke billowed from there,” he told The Associated Press news agency.
“I ran back toward the mosque and seconds after heard another big explosion. Then I moved to help the wounded and put six or seven of the crying ones in ambulances and police vehicles.”
Thursday evenings are typically the busiest times of the week at such shrines.
Thousands of Sufi Muslims often visit to pray, distribute food to the poor and toss rose petals on the grave of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the great-grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who is credited with bringing Islam to the coastal region in the eighth century.
Thursday’s explosions echoed a twin suicide bombing at a well-known Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore that left 40 people dead earlier this year.
“It has all the hallmarks of a Taliban assault,” Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman, reporting from the capital Islamabad, said.
“They feel, and have said many times in the past, that this [Sufi] form of Islam is unIslamic and unacceptable to them.”
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, “strongly condemned” the blasts and ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident.
“It is yet another heinous act of violence reflecting the deranged minds of terrorists,” he said in a statement issued by his office.