Isil suicide bomber slaughters 75 at Pakistani shrine
An Isil suicide bomber struck inside a famed shrine in southern Pakistan yesterday, killing at least 75 people in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two years.
The bomber entered the main hall of the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan and detonated his payload amid dozens of worshippers, according to three security officials, who said at least 20 women and nine children were among the dead.
Fazal Palejo, a senior health official in Sindh province, confirmed the toll.
Isil claimed the attack in a statement circulated by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted a "Shiite gathering." The Sunni extremist group views Shiites as apostates and has targeted Pakistan's Shiite minority in the past. It views Sufi shrines like the one targeted yesterday as a form of idolatry.
Raja Somro, who witnessed the attack, told a local TV network that hundreds of people were performing a spiritual dance known as the Dhamal when the bomber struck.
"I saw bodies everywhere. I saw bodies of women and children," he said.
Also yesterday, a car packed with explosives blew up in Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least 48 and wounding 55 in the deadliest such attack in Iraq this year, security and medical sources said.
Isil, which is on the defensive after losing control of eastern Mosul to a US-backed Iraqi military offensive, claimed responsibility for the bombing in an online statement.
Security sources said that the vehicle that blew up yesterday was parked in a crowded street full of garages and used car dealers, in the Shia area of Bayaa in the south of the city. The death toll could climb further as many of the wounded were in critical condition.