Dozens of militants killed after Pakistan shrine bombimg

14:44   17 February 2017    605

Security forces in Pakistan killed dozens of militants and arrested scores more Friday after a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in the south of the country killed at least 80 people.

The attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State, happened at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a 13th century Muslim saint, in Sindh province Thursday. Medical official Moeen Uddin Siddiqui told AFP that at least 20 children were among the dead.

A government official added that the nationwide crackdown started early Friday and would continue for the next few days.

Security officials told the Associated Press that at least 39 militants were killed in shootouts following raids on their hideouts, including 11 in Karachi, the capital of Sindh, and seven elsewhere in the province. At least 47 people were arrested, the AP reported.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency. The militants view the shrine as a form of idolatry.

Pakistani armed forces spokesman Asif Ghafoor told the AFP the attacks were conducted from Afghanistan and that Pakistani authorities had asked the Afghan government to take action. He said the military closed the porous border between the two nations for security reasons.

At 3.30 a.m. local time Friday, the caretaker at the centuries-old shrine rang the bell as the floor remained smeared with blood and scattered with items including shoes and baby bottles. He vowed to continue the daily ritual and said he would not bow down to terrorists, AFP reported.

The attack happened days after a Taliban-linked group bombed pharmacists protesting changes to drug sale laws in the northeastern Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. A spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group said the attack was "just the start,” Al Jazeera reported.



/USA Today/

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