Karachi, Feb 16 : At least 76 people were killed andnearly 250 others injured tonight when an Islamic Statesuicide bomber blew himself up inside the crowded shrine ofrevered Sufi Lal ShahbazQalandar in Sehwan town, in a stringof deadly blasts this week in Pakistan.
The bomber entered the shrine through its Golden gate andblew himself up near the site where the ritual of Sufi dance'Dhamal' was taking place.
The attacker first threw couple of grenades to causepanic and then blew himself up, police said. Hundreds ofdevotees were present inside the premises of the vastmausoleum of the saint in the Sehwan town, some 200 kmsnortheast of Karachi, at the time of blast.
"We had around 27 policemen on duty at the shrine andthey were CCTV cameras also. But he took advantage of therush. I don't think this is a security lapse,"Inspector-General of police in Sindh, AD Khawaja said.
DIG police Hyderabad range, Manzoor Rind told media thatthe death toll from the suicide bombing has climbed to 76while the injured were around 250.
"The toll at this moment is 76 but condition of some ofthe injured admitted in different hospitals is critical," Rindsaid.
Earlier, Sehwan police station SHO RasoolBaksh toldreporters that around 100 people, including women andchildren, have been killed in the suicide bomb attack.
The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on theirAamaq news agency, saying a suicide bomber had targeted a"Shiite gathering" at the shrine in Sindh.
Commissioner Hyderabad QaziShahidPervaz said since theshrine was located in a remote area, some 130 kms fromHyderabad, ambulances and vehicles and medical teams were sentfrom Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Moro, Dadu and Nawabshah to theblast site to take care of the injured and move the bodies.
He said the shrine has been sealed and police havecollected initial evidence and secured CCTV footage. "Theforensic examination will be carried out at the shrine soon,"he said.
Qazi said rescue operations have been completed as thePakistan Army and Navy had sent three night flying helicoptersand ambulances to shift the dead and injured.
He said the dead bodies are now being identified.This is the fifth major terrorist strike in Pakistanwithin a week's time.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack andurged Pakistan to "stand united".
He said the attack on the shrine is an attack on the"progressive and inclusive future" of Pakistan.
"The Sufi people predate Pakistan's history, and playedan important part in the struggle for its formation," he said."An attack on them is a direct threat to Jinnah'sPakistan and will be dealt as such," Sharif said.
Army chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa vowed to avenge "everydrop of blood" spilled by terrorists in Pakistan.
"Recent terrorist acts are being executed on directionsfrom hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Weshall defend and respond.
"Each drop of the nation's blood shall be revenged, andrevenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone," the ArmyChief was quoted as saying by Inter Services Public Relations(ISPR) Director Major General Asif Ghafoor on Twitter.
Devotees gather at the shrine of Lal ShahbazQalandar, aSufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan,every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers.