Sehwan : At least 70 people were killed and hundreds wounded Thursday when a bomb ripped through a revered Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan, officials said, after a series of attacks which have shaken optimism over recent improvements in security.
The Islamic State group (IS) claimed the attack, the deadliest to hit Pakistan so far in 2017, in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northeast of the provincial capital Karachi.
A police source said a suicide bomber entered the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a 13th century Muslim saint, and blew himself up among hundreds of devotees.
Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan late Thursday, citing security reasons as in past attacks Islamabad has accused Kabul of harbouring Pakistani militants. Kabul also regularly points the finger at Pakistan for sending militants to carry out bombings in the war torn country.
The centuries-old shrine, one of the most revered in Pakistan, had been crowded on a Thursday, considered a sacred day for prayers.
Provincial health minister Sikandar Ali Mandhro said at least 70 people had died while 250 were wounded, 40 of them critically.
Images of the shrine showed blood smeared on the white floor around the grave, with debris and shoes scattered around.
Survivors and local residents, many in tears, were helping the blood-soaked wounded on to stretchers, while at Sehwan's overcrowded medical facility the injured were being treated on floors and in corridors.
An AFP photographer said shreds of flesh and blood were spattered inside the shrine.
"There is blood everywhere and lots of shoes, sandals, slippers littered everywhere which indicates a stampede after the bombing," he said.