–Balochistan home minister says policeman’s courage averted higher death toll
QUETTA: suicide bomb blast at Pir Rakhel Shah’s shrine in Fatehpur Sharif, Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan, on Thursday killed at least 18 people, including three children and a policeman, and wounded several others.
Jhal Magsi District Commissioner Asadullah Kakar confirmed the death toll that includes police official ASI Bahar Khan and three children.
Reports suggest the explosion took place at the entrance gate of the shrine during Urs celebrations when scores of people had gathered to pay their obeisance and many of them were performing dhamaal after evening prayers.
According to Jhal Magsi District Police Officer Muhammad Iqbal, the suicide bomber blew himself up when police tried to stop him at the gate of the shrine, in which ASI Bahar Khan lost his life.
Following the bombing, an emergency was declared at hospitals in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamali, while Gandawah District Headquarters Hospital’s medical superintendent said that fifteen bodies were brought to the hospital. He said that 24 injured were brought to the hospital, of which 18 were shifted to Quetta in view of their critical condition.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti told media that rescue teams had shifted the wounded and dead to the district headquarters hospital (DHQ), adding that a helicopter might be called in for rescue operation if needed.
Bugti suspected that security forces around the shrine could be the target of the attack. He however lauded police’s efforts, saying if the attacker had managed to enter the shrine, the death toll would have been much higher.
Bugti said: “We are in a war zone. We [share] a porous border with Afghanistan. Keeping all these factors in mind, our security forces ensured a peaceful Muharram and they will continue to fight terrorism in Balochistan.”
The area was cordoned off by security forces following the blast.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former president Asif Zardari, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri strongly condemned the bomb blast at the shrine.
They said although it was an attack on innocent people of Balochistan, terrorists cannot shake the resolve of the nation. They prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and grant of courage to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss. They also prayed for a swift recovery of the injured.
In his condemnation, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said terrorists don’t belong to any religion. He said that the killers of Baloch people are enemies of the state and will be met with full force. He also ordered the best possible medical treatment for the injured.
Meanwhile, security at shrines and worship places in Sindh province, notably Hyderabad, was beefed up in the wake of the Jhal Magsi terror attack.
This was the second attack on Pir Rakhel Shah’s shrine. At least 35 people were killed on March 19, 2005, when a suicide explosion had rattled the shrine.
Last year in November, the shrine of Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district was the target of terrorists in which 50 people were killed.
Pir Rakhel Shah belonged to a family claiming to be from the lineage of Hazrat Ali. He was born in 1852 AD in Mirpur, Balochistan.
Rakhel Shah, under the influence of his brother’s spiritual tendencies, became a disciple of Sufi Abdul Sattar of Dargah Jhoke Sharif. Upon his return to Fatehpur following his stay with Sufi Abdul Sattar, Rakhel Shah made Fatehpur his abode and started living a life of abstinence and devotion to his Sufi ideals. The Fatehpur shrine, a victim of terrorism for two times, stands in the devotion of his piety and spirituality.