At least 61 people were killed and 50 others injured in an explosion at an imambargah in Shikarpur on Friday.
As per initial reports, the blast occurred during Friday prayers at Karbala Maula Imambargah in Lakhi Dar area.
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Talking to media on early Saturday, Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said that on the orders of chief minister, 14 critically injured have been brought to Karachi by C-130 plane for further treatment, Express News reported.
The injured will be treated at Aga Khan Hospital and Sindh government will bear the expenses, said commissioner adding that 16 relatives were also brought with the injured.
Four critically injured patients have been brought by army teams to CMH Panoaqil for treatment, whereas 12 are being shifted to Karachi on Friday night by a C-130 aircraft.
CMH Malir and PNS Shifa have been put on alert to receive the patients.
The death toll has jumped to 61.
Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Daher told AFP that “the death toll from the attack has increased to 61”.
Shaukat Ali Memon, the medical superintendent of Civil Hospital in Shikarpur, said the death toll has risen to 48.
The Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen has called for a strike tomorrow to protest against the attack, Express News reported.
The death toll has jumped to 40.
Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Daher told AFP that “a total of 40 have been killed in the attack, 46 others have been wounded”.
Shaukat Ali Memon, the medical superintendent of Civil Hospital in Shikarpur, confirmed the death toll and warned it could rise further as many of the wounded were in critical condition.
Security officials and police examine the site of the blast. PHOTO: AFP
The death toll now stands at 29.
“An unidentified man placed explosives packed in a shopping bag inside the imambargah and left,” Shikarpur police chief said, ruling out earlier reports that it was a suicide blast.
The militant organisation Jundullah, which last year pledged support for the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Our target was the Shia community (mosque)… They are our enemies,” said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesperson. He did not elaborate.
Local resident Mohammad Jehangir told AFP he had “felt the earth move beneath my feet” as he prayed at another mosque around 1.5 kilometres away.
Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Daher told AFP that “at least 20 people are dead and 73 others were wounded,” adding that 23 of the worst injured had been moved to larger towns with better-equipped hospitals.
However, Shaukat Ali Memon, the medical superintendent of Civil Hospital in Shikarpur, said the death toll stood at 25.
Jafria Alliance Pakistan spokesperson Syed Mehtab Haider has said they will hold a press conference in Karachi at 5pm to announce their future course of action, our correspondent Noman Ahmed reports.
“The terrorist attack has yet again proven the Sindh government’s total failure to deal with the issue of terrorism,” Haider told The Express Tribune.
Part of the mosque collapsed after the explosion, burying some of the wounded in rubble. Bystanders later pulled them out.
“We are trying to ascertain the nature of the blast,” said Shikarpur police chief Saqib Ismail Memon.
“A bomb disposal squad is examining the scene.”
Four ambulances and army doctors have been moved to Pano Aqil garrison for treatment of the wounded, according to an Inter Services Public Relations statement.
Abdul Quddus, a senior police official in Shikarpur, told AFP the initial investigation suggested it may have been a suicide blast.
Witness Zahid Noon said hundreds of people had rushed to the scene to try to dig out survivors trapped under the roof of the imambargah, which collapsed in the blast.
Television footage of the aftermath showed chaotic rescue scenes as people piled the wounded into cars, motorbikes and rickshaws to take them for treatment.
“The area is scattered with blood and flesh and it smells of burnt meat, people are screaming at each other… it is chaos,” Noon told AFP.
“A huge contingency of police and Rangers is present here and ambulances from the nearby towns have started to arrive.”
“At least 20 bodies and more than 50 wounded people have been brought to the hospital,” Shaukat Memon, Shikarpur Civil Hospital medical superintendent, said.
According to an eyewitness, a suicide bomber allegedly blew himself up during Friday prayers.
“At least 80 people were present inside the imambargah at the time of the blast,” the eyewitness added.
Owing to a shortage of doctors in Shikarpur, medical teams have been sent from Sukkur and Jacobabad.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon condemning the incident said, “I have spoken to doctors and urged them to provide the best medical treatment to the injured.”
“Sindh chief minister has asked IG Sindh for an initial investigative report,” Memon said, while speaking to Express News.
Further, the information minister insisted the blast did not occur because of a security lapse.
“The entire Pakistan is under threat and militants attack wherever they find a soft target but the blast did not occur because of a security lapse, there security was present at the site.”
All Pakistan Shia Action Committee Shikarpur president Molvi Sikandar claims that the number of casualties is higher because the hospitals in the area are not well equipped.
According to Shikarpur Civil Hospital medical superintendent Shaukat Memon the death toll has risen to 20.
Express News screengrab of the site of the blast.
Tahafuz-e-Azadari Council has announced three days of mourning following the blast.
The death toll now stands at 12.
Express News screengrab of the site of the blast.
Sindh provincial health minister Jam Mehtab said “at least 12 people have been killed and more than 40 injured”.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has asked IG Sindh for an initial investigative report of the blast.
Further, former president Asif Ali Zardari, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan have condemned the blast.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the blast and offered condolences to the bereaved families.
Police and Rangers have cordoned off the area and emergency has been declared in Civil Hospital.
Five injured have been shifted to Civil Hospital in Shikarpur and are said to be in critical condition.
The nature of the blast is not known as yet. However, reports suggest it might be a suicide blast.
Police officials and rescue teams have reached the site of the blast.
This is the bloodiest single sectarian attack in the country since January 22 last year, when 24 Shia pilgrims returning from Iran were killed when their bus was bombed in Balochistan.