Deadly blasts at Pakistan shrine

Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for attack on Sufi shrine near Dera Ghazi Khan in which dozens are killed.

    Police officers said the shrine had received threats from unidentified fighters  [AFP]

    More than 40 people have been killed in two suicide bombings near the central Pakistani city of Dera Ghazi Khan.

    The blasts went off on Sunday at the Sakhi Sarwar shine, leaving up to 100 people injured. Hundreds of worshippers had gathered at the shrine for a religious ceremony when the attacks took place.

    "We have recovered 41 bodies so far," police officer Zahid Hussain Shah told the AFP news agency from the scene of the blasts.

    "The attackers came on foot and blew themselves up when police on duty stopped them."

    The Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack.

    "Our men carried out these attacks and we will carry out more in retaliation for government operations against our people in the northwest," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the Reuters news agency by telephone from an undisclosed location.

    Shrine threatened

    A police official, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the shrine had received threats from unidentified hard-line fighters.

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said the attacks are going to "cause considerable anger because, once again, the victims are women and children and ordinary people".

    "There were three attackers: two of them blew themselves up; the third was arrested," he said.

    "They entered the shrine from the back. There was an annual gathering ... tens of thousands people normally go to these shrines ... and therefore there was a large number of ordinary people."

    Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the blasts, saying that "such cowardly acts of terror clearly demonstrate that the culprits involved neither have any faith nor any belief in human values".

    "Such violent acts only seem to be conspiracy to divide the society and create fear," a statement from Gilani's office said.

    Sufi shrines have been the scene of attacks in the past in Pakistan. Hard-line fighters, including the Taliban, are vehemently opposed to the Sufi strand of Islam and consider their shrines to be idolatrous.

    In one of the deadliest attacks, two suicide bombers blew themselves up among crowds of worshippers at Pakistan's most popular Sufi site, the Data Darbar shrine in the eastern city of Lahore, in July last year, killing 42 people.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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