Sunday Nov 13, 2016

At least 52 killed, 100 injured in blast in Lasbella’s Shah Noorani shrine


HUB: At least 52 people including women and children were killed and more than 100 injured in a suicide blast in Shah Noorani shrine near Hub in Balochistan’s Lasbella district on Saturday evening, rescue sources told Geo News.

Teams of medics and paramedics from Pakistan Army's Medical Corps and Pakistan Rangers Sindh reached the site of the explosion and administered first aid to the wounded. The injured, after preliminary medical attention, were shifted to the nearest hospitals in Hub, Khuzdar and Lasbella and Civil Hospital in Karachi.

35 dead bodies have been transferred to Civil Hospital in Karachi, where emergency has been declared.

The shrine has been re-opened for the masses after preliminary rescue work.

According to sources, the attack was carried out by a young man who used ball bearings in the explosives for maximum damage. 

Difficult-to-access area

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that the explosion took place when the devotees were engaged in dhamaal.

He said ambulances and rescue teams from Lasbela and Hub rushed to Shah Noorani, located about 200km away from Karachi.

"It takes some three hours from Hub to reach the Shah Noorani shrine which is located in a difficult mountainous area where mobile phone service also does not work", he added.

He said helicopter ambulances could not be used because of darkness.

In-charge Edhi Foundation Lasbella Hakeem Lassi told Geo News that more than 100 people were injured. He said that more than 10 ambulances of Edhi Foundation reached the blast site and rescue efforts were underway.

Even the nearest hospitals are at least two hours away from the location of the blast. Many died because they could not receive medical treatment on time.

COAS orders max assistance for evacuation: DG ISPR

Director-General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa on Twitter said that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has ordered maximum assistance for evacuation and on-spot medical treatment of the injured.


'500-600 people were present at the shrine'

Talking to Geo News, Additional Deputy Commissioner Lasbella Tariq Mengal said that 500 to 600 people were in the shrine at the time of the blast.

Mengal said that many people on Saturdays and Sundays arrive in the shrine to participate in the dhamaal, a traditional folk dance.

He said that the authorities were trying to shift the injured to Karachi for medical treatment but rescue teams and law enforcers faced difficulty in reaching the site of the blast as it is located in a remote area of the province.

"Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this", said Nawaz Ali, the shrine's custodian.


Initial investigation 

Initial investigation report on the attack has been prepared. The report confirms the attack was suicidal in nature and was carried out by a young man at 5:50 pm on Saturday. Investigative officials said the attacker looked of Afghani origin.

According to the report, over 7kg of explosives were used in the bomb. Ball bearings were used to inflict maximum damage.

12 Levies personnel were stationed in and around the Shah Noorani shrine at the time of the blast. There were no metal detectors and walk-through gates at the shrine, officials said.

The head of the attacker has been recovered from the rubble and sent to relevant authorities for investigation. 

The attack is suspected to have been carried out by a banned outfit which has previously been involved in similar attacks on shrines in the country.

PM strongly condemns Shah Noorani blast

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the bomb blast in the Shah Noorani shrine and directed the concerned authorities to speed up the rescue activities.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member of the National Assembly Talal Chaudhry also strongly condemned the attack. He said action would be taken against those who were responsible for negligence in this regard.

He said incidents of terrorism had reduced due to effective measures taken by the government.

Chairman Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the bomb blast. "From schools to hospitals and mosques to Dargahs terrorists are hitting at every innocent target and killing the people like hunters do to birds", he said in a statement.

"Shah Noorani bomb blast shows that nation needs unity to fight the cancer of terrorism without any delinquency on any one's part", PPP chairman added.

He expressed deep shock at the loss of innocent lives and sympathized with those who lost their near and dear ones.

Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri strongly condemned the Shah Noorani blast and ordered the officials to use all available resources in rescue operation.

He affirmed that his government would continue action against terrorists to rid Balochistan of terrorism.

Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan also condemned the incident and sought report from Inspector General Frontier Constabulary.