Pakistan Bombing Deaths Reach 49
At least 49 people have now been confirmed dead, with 93 were injured, following an attack by two suicide bombers at a shrine in Pakistan's Punjab province yesterday, police said.
A pair of Taliban suicide bombers struck one of Pakistan’s most important Sufi Muslim shrines while people were celebrating the anniversary of its founder’s death.
Another bomber was wounded when his explosive vest partially detonated. He was arrested along with a fourth militant who was seized before attacking, police official Ahmad Mubarak said.
Yesterday’s attack on the Sakhi Sarwar shrine ended a months-long respite in a militant campaign against the shrines founded by ancient adherents of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam that sees dancing, chanting and visiting holy sites as expressions of devotion to God. Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the assault.
From one-room tombs in small villages to large complexes in major cities, Sufi shrines are visited by millions of Pakistanis. The sites are anathema to the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant followers of the austere brand of Wahabi Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia.
Followers of the Barelvi school of Islam, one of the two main branches of the religion in Pakistan, consider themselves the custodian of the shrines. They have been one of the main targets of Islamist militants since some of their leaders issued edicts calling suicide bombings religiously illegitimate.
Yesterday's bombings followed two attacks last week on opposition lawmaker Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his supporters that killed more than 30 people.