They Were Dancing at Sufi Shrine. Then the Bomber Struck
Attack is Pakistan's deadliest since 2014
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2017 12:16 AM CST
Pakistani students light candles to condemn the attack.   (Shakil Adil)
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(Newser) – An ISIS suicide bomber struck inside a famed shrine in southern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 75 people in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two years. The bomber entered the main hall of the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan and detonated his payload amid dozens of worshippers, according to three security officials, who said at least 20 women and nine children were among the dead. ISIS claimed the attack in a statement circulated by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted a "Shiite gathering," the AP reports. The Sunni extremist group views Shiites as apostates and sees Sufi shrines like the one targeted Thursday as a form of idolatry.

A witness to the attack told a local TV network that hundreds of people were performing a spiritual dance known as the Dhamal when the bomber struck. "I saw bodies everywhere. I saw bodies of women and children," he said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed that security forces would track down the perpetrators of the attack, according to Pakistani state TV. "Each drop of the nation's blood shall be avenged, and avenged immediately," Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, said in a statement. "No more restraint for anyone." The attack was the deadliest in Pakistan since Dec. 16, 2014, when militants assaulted an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 154 people, mostly schoolchildren.

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