Black Friday: Shikarpur bleeds

Published: January 31, 2015
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At least 57 killed in blast at Imambargah; province-wide strike today. PHOTO: PPI

At least 57 killed in blast at Imambargah; province-wide strike today. PHOTO: PPI

SUKKUR: 

A powerful bomb tore through a crowded Imambargah during Friday prayers in a densely populated neighbourhood of Shikarpur city, killing at least 57 worshippers and wounding many more. The blast at Karbala-e-Moalla Imambargah in the Lakhidar area was the deadliest sectarian attack since the government introduced a new National Action Plan (NAP) dubbed a paradigm shift in the country’s long, deadly and costly fight against terrorism.

More than 300 worshippers were inside the double-storey compound of the Imambargah and the prayer leader, Maulvi Tanveer Hussain Shah, was delivering the Friday sermon when the bomb went off on the ground floor, according to witnesses.

The explosion was heard in several neighbourhoods of the city. Local resident Muhammad Jehangir said he had felt the earth move beneath his feet as he prayed at another mosque around 1.5 kilometres away. Hundreds of people rushed to the scene to try to dig out survivors trapped under the rubble of the Imambargah, which collapsed in the explosion, witness Zahid Noon said.

Television cameras captured scenes of carnage and confusion as people piled the wounded into cars, motorcycles, rickshaws and on donkey carts 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.

Later Edhi ambulances reached the site while ambulances from the nearby towns were also called in. According to rescuers, at least 15 people died while being transported to hospitals in Shikarpur and nearby Sukkur district. Some of the injured expired at the hospitals due to excessive bleeding and absence of doctors.

A spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation in Sukkur told The Express Tribune that up to 38 bodies were moved to the hospitals, while another 18 bodies were transported by other ambulance services. “In all, 57 people have died,” he added. Most of the injured have been shifted to hospitals in Sukkur and Karachi.

However, later AFP quoted Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Daher as saying that “the death toll has increased to 61”. “There are 54 dead bodies in Shikarpur hospital. Seven others died in Sukkur and Larkana hospitals,” he added.

SSP Shikarpur Saqib Ismail Memon and DIG Larkana Saen Rakhio Mirani visited the site but didn’t talk to journalists there. Tahir Malik, DSP Bomb Disposal Squad at Sukkur, told The Express Tribune that it was neither a suicide bombing nor the device was planted at the Imambargah.

“It was a homemade device weighing around eight kilos,” he said, adding that ball bearings and metal pieces were also packed in the device to inflict maximum casualties.

A spokesman for the Jandullah militant group, a splinter faction of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said they were behind the blast. “We claim responsibility for attack on Shias in Shikarpur very happily,” Ahmed Marwat told AFP.

The president of the Shikarpur chapter of the All Pakistan Shia Action Committee, Maulvi Sikandar, claimed that there was no police guards at the Imambargah and volunteers from the community body-searched visitors at the gate.

The Jafria Alliance Pakistan demanded imposition of martial law in the province to stem the rising tide of terrorism. “Our prime concern is peace and security,” the alliance chief Allama Abbas Kumaili said at a news conference.

“If the democratic government fails to deliver and we can get these fundamental rights under martial law, then so be it,” he told a news conference where he also announced a province-wide strike on Saturday as well as three-day mourning. Several political and politico-religious parties backed the strike call.

The bombing triggered protests by the Shia community in several neighbourhoods of the city. The main sit-in was staged at Numaish Chowrangi while protesters also gathered on Shahra-e-Pakistan near Ancholi Society and at Jafar Tayyar Society in Malir. The number of sit-ins grew as the evening progressed and several parts of the city were reported to have shut down ahead of Saturday’s strike call.

It is the bloodiest single sectarian attack since March 2013, when a car bomb in the Abbas Town of Karachi killed 45. Violence against the Shia community has been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in Quetta, Parachinar and Gilgit. Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in the country, with many of the attacks claimed by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) sectarian militant group.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Sid
    Jan 31, 2015 - 9:57AM

    But focusing on Kashmir is more important. Pakistan does not care for Shias death or death of any minority

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  • Jan 31, 2015 - 9:58AM

    Surprised I don see same emotions of government for these people as we had Peshawar tragedy. PM Nawaz sharif should at least visit them…

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  • raw is war
    Jan 31, 2015 - 10:06AM

    Pakistan cannot take care of Shias in Sindh. How can it ask for Kashmir? Kashmiris are predominantly Shia Muslims.

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  • Nirmit
    Jan 31, 2015 - 10:59AM

    why does Pakistan exists on this earth….killing, brutality, bloodshed all normal from an abnormal psychic of justifying violence under state pretext. Pity to find all these everyday.

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  • Jan 31, 2015 - 11:35AM

    There are hardly any comments on this horrific tragedy. What has become of our TV, newspapers, and commenters? Don’t they like the citizens of Sindh? This explosion has taken the lives of innocent humans who had gone to worship and pray to Almighty Allah, and here only four to five commenters? What has happened to us?
    Obviously, the PPP Sindh provincial government is least interested in the interior and wants to only sit tight in Karachi. Sometime back the Jundallah had disappeared from the news altogether and all of a sudden has reappeared? Where is NACTA? Where are the intelligence agencies? Why has the government not taken proactive steps to dealt with this calamity? Imagine the wailing, crying, and despair of the orphans and widows? How sad and insentient. Salams

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  • Parvez
    Jan 31, 2015 - 1:02PM

    Shikarpur bleeds and our Prime Minister plays the flute.
    In today’s daily DAWN Irfan Hussain has written a hard hitting piece as to who is to blame……its worth reading.

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  • M.A.S
    Jan 31, 2015 - 1:27PM

    Wakeu Sid:

    Shias are not a miniority.

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  • Haider Rehman
    Jan 31, 2015 - 3:31PM

    @Sid:
    Things were alright and will be fine again when India stops supporting terrorism.

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  • Haider Rehman
    Jan 31, 2015 - 3:33PM

    We must not let the terrorists divide us on sectarian grounds.
    GO TALIBAN GO!!!

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  • straightshooter
    Jan 31, 2015 - 3:46PM

    Aww…so the Indian Kashmiri b…hurt of yesterday continues into the weekend. Seems @Waqas reeled in a bigger fish than expected. Bravo, Waqas.

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  • In the name of love (what more)
    Jan 31, 2015 - 4:38PM

    Violence can be no solution to any problem, no matter how grave it may be. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s army has used similar strategies for the solution of Kashmir. So much so, that it has now got out of hands, and the PMLN has to bear the brunt. ZBA has been launched by the Pakistan’s army coz the TTP is killing the armymen and now demons are not even sparing their children. But what is the plan to control these outfits, who are killing scores of unarmed, innocent civilians?

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  • Khajiwa Khan
    Jan 31, 2015 - 4:49PM

    Are shias not humans? Are Ahmedis not humans? Are christians not Pakistanis?
    I am ashamed to call myself Pakistani these days.
    It’s about time ahmedis are considered muslims as they are really peaceful community. Never heard of them killing other muslims or human beings.

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  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 31, 2015 - 11:22PM

    @Haider Rehman:
    Classic case of Pakistani Denial In blaming India for this with absolutely no proof (as usual)!

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