KARACHI, Pakistan - A suicide bombing attack struck a packed Sufi shrine in Pakistan on Thursday, killing 13 people and leaving 20 others injured.
According to police officials, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Sufi shrine, Dargah Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan that was packed with devotees.
Speaking to reporters, Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Kakar said that the attacker tried to enter the shrine and when he was stopped by the police at the main entrance, he blew himself up.
Kakar added later that 13 people had been killed, and 20 others were seriously injured.
He added that one police constable was killed while attempting to stop the suicide bomber from entering the shrine, while two other policemen were injured in the blast.
Rescue officials fear the death toll could rise as the blast occured when the shrine was witnessing a heavy rush of devotees on Thursday, when devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint to participate in a Sufi dance called dhamal and prayers.
Later, addressing reporters, Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that so far it appeared to be a suicide attack.
Bugti said, "Investigations are still continuing and the injured have been moved to the district headquarters hospital in Jhal Magsi.”
Balochistan government spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar too confirmed that it was a suicide attack.
The police have launched an investigation and an initial probe reportedly showed that the blast occurred when dhamal was ongoing in the premises of the shrine.
While the Taliban usually target shrines as they consider it un-Islamic, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
The local administration declared an emergency at hospitals in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamali.
The attack, which came as the latest sectarian attack in troubled Baluchistan province, is also the second major attack at a shrine in Balochistan in a year.
In November 2016, at least 52 people were killed and 102 injured in a blast at the shrine of Shah Noorani in Khuzdar district that was claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
In February this year, ISIS claimed an attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, that left 83 people dead.