Sufi shrine targeted by IS (Wilayat Khorasan)
Image via The News (International)
The region of Balochistan, in Pakistan was once again hit by violence when an explosion targeted a Sufi Muslim gathering in the Lasbella district killing 52 people and injuring 105 others. The casualty figures were tweeted by Sarfraz Bugti, Minster for Home and Tribal affairs, PDMA and prison who said “400 levies man are on spot and surrounding area DC Khuzdar DC Bela supervising rescue operation.” Balochistan is home to a number of insurgent groups and a separatist movement fighting for independence from Pakistan.
The attack happened as worshippers gathered at the Shah Noorani shrine to perform a dhamaal which is a trance-like dance that is performed daily around sunset, to honor Sufi saints and attracts large crowds. As Nicholas Schmiddle wrote in his 2008 article on Sufis in Pakistan, “Sufism is not a sect, like Shiism or Sunnism, but rather the mystical side of Islam—a personal, experiential approach to Allah, which contrasts with the prescriptive, doctrinal approach of fundamentalists like the Taliban.” Sufis are increasingly exposed to violence from insurgent groups so security at such events is important. Ayaz Khan of Balochistan Voices explained,
“Shah Noorani is a place which is guarded by levis force however security of the Tomb, at the time of attack, was low as it remains usually. Tomb’s security remains a concern in normal days, but it is increased during the annual commemoration (urs) which is often celebrated in the month of Ramadan.”
Back in June, Amjad Sabri, a famous Sufi singer who performed Qawwali devotional music was shot dead in Karachi see following link,
“Amjad Sabri: Pakistanis mourn singer killed by Taliban”
Rescuers struggled to reach victims (Image AFP)
Rescue efforts at Shah Noorani were hampered by the rough, hilly terrain delaying help to those trapped in the rubble. Assam Dastghir echoed the concerns of many, tweeting,
Facing difficulties in reaching Shah Noorani. Governors, PM, Interior minister roam around in helicopters but No heli for bloody civilians.
Nearest facility where serious patients can be treated is Located 300 km away in Khi the poor of this country has many killers
Relatives gathered at a hospital in Karachi (Image AP)
Local film footage posted by showed Edhi workers shifting injured and dead bodies from the bomb site to Civil Hospital in Karachi. General Asim Bajwa (ISPR) reported that 50 soldiers and 20 ambulances had been dispatched to the scene.
Sumaira Jajja, a journalist with Dawn stated, “when it comes to disasters in Pakistan, its either the Edhi Foundation or Pakistan army to the rescue. Zero capacity of government organisations.” Imran Khan Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaf (PTI) said he was “shocked at blast in Khuzdar, Balochistan at shrine of Shah Noorani: terrible loss of life. Govt must immediately send helicopters to this remote area.”
Islamic State (known as Wilayat Khorasan in the region) claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq media according to Reuters. Back in October IS targeted a police academy resulting in many fatalities.
“Balochistan: Attack on Quetta college leaves dozens dead and over a 100 injured!
“Pakistanis sufis preach faith and ecstacy”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.