QUETTA, PAKISTAN - A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded Sufi shrine Thursday in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens of others.
The victims, mostly members of the minority Shi’ite Muslim community, were performing the dhammal (dance) ritual, witnesses said.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the Sufi shrine.
Doctors in the remote Jhal Magsi district, where the deadly bombing occurred, say they have received "a large number of casualties" and the death toll is likely to increase.
Provincial government spokesman Anwar-ul Haq Kakar told VOA that the bomber wanted to enter the main compound but blew himself up when police guards intercepted him and tried to stop him.
A state of emergency was declared in regional hospitals and more than 50 “seriously” wounded people were being flown in helicopters to Quetta hospitals, Kakar added.
A top district police officer, Mohammad Iqbal, told reporters investigators have retrieved body parts of the bomber and trying to establish his identity. He added that a policeman was among the dead.
The blast site is about 400 kilometers southeast of Quetta, the provincial capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Islamic State has claimed a couple of recent suicide suicide bombings of Sufi shrines in Baluchistan.