Balochistan, Islamic State claims attack on Sufi mausoleum: 20 dead

A suicide bomber detonated explosives outside the mausoleum of the Sufi "saint" Pir Rakhel Shah. There are also 24 injured. Among the victims, the security guard who prevented the kamikaze from entering the temple crowded with the faithful. 

Quetta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 20 people died, and another 24 were injured, in the Kamikaze attack that last night devastated the entrance of Sufi Pir Rakhel Shah mausoleum, in Jhal Magsi district, Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Mohammad Iqbal, district police officer, reports that the attacker, armed with an explosive belt, detonated his bomb when a security guard attempted to prevent him from entering the sanctuary. The attack has already been claimed by the Islamic State on Amaq, the propaganda site of the Caliphate militants, who exulted the "martyrdom operation."

Yesterday the mausoleum was crowded with hundreds of faithful gathered together to commemorate the anniversary of their sufi "saint". According to testimonies collected by the police, the attendant waited for the end of the evening prayer and struck while performing the dhamaal, a ritual of music and dance typical of Sufi traditions.

Sarfaraz Bugti, Minister of Interior of Balochistan, said that only the timely intervention of the security guard, among the victims of the explosion, avoided a heavier toll. "If the attacker - he said - had managed to enter the dargah (mausoleum), it would have been a massacre."

Yesterday's was the second assault on a Sufi worship site in 2017. Earlier, in February, an attack on the Sufi sanctuary of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan City caused more than 80 deaths and 250 wounded. Sufism is a current of moderate Islam and involves mystical and liberating practices (such as music and dance). Such practices are ostracized by extremists, who regard them as heretical and an insult to Islam.