Monday, April 4, 2011

Pak shrine bombings: Death toll climbs to 49

Islamabad: The toll in the suicide bombings that tore through a crowded Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Punjab province on Monday climbed to 49 as doctors raced to treat over a hundred people who were wounded. 
The toll in the suicide blasts near Sakhi Sarwar shrine has reached 49, Dawn News reported on Monday. 

Last year, there had been several suicide blasts at shrines across the country. One such attack in Lahore in July last year claimed the lives of at least 37 people and injured over 170. Shrines at Karachi and Quetta have also been targeted in the past. 

On Sunday, the first blast in the shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan district took place at about 5.40 pm. 

Rescue monitoring in-charge Muhammad Ahsan said the blast took place near the main gate of the shrine, where faithful had gathered for a three-day festival. 

The second blast occurred at the rear of the shrine located on top of a mountain. 

A third blast took place about an hour later when devotees were busy helping the injured people at the site. Some reports, however, said that the bomb had been defused. 

Hundreds of people, including women and children, had gathered at the shrine in the afternoon. 

The condition of several injured was critical, district official Iftikhar said. 

Police said the blasts were suicide attacks. The suicide bomber in the first blast who died on the spot was aged between 17 and 22. 

Another alleged suicide bomber - hailing from the northwestern part of the country - was taken into custody and his suicide jacket was defused. He was later taken to an undisclosed location. 

As the shrine is located on a mountain, rescue workers faced difficulties in shifting the injured people down to the plains, officials said, adding that many critically injured people died before they reached hospital. 

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack and ordered a probe. 

Media reports said the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the attack. 

IANS

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