Sufi Shrine in Pakistan Is Hit by a Lethal Double Bombing

By Huma Imtiaz for The New York Times

KARACHI, Pakistan — A nearly simultaneous double explosion that may have been the work of suicide bombers struck a crowded Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s main port city of Karachi on Thursday evening, killing at least 7 people and wounding 65, officials and rescue workers said. Pakistani women mourn the death of a child killed in an attack on the shrine Sufi Saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi.

It was the first attack on the shrine, the grave of the Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi, and it appeared to be an effort by hard-line militants in Pakistan to strike at the heart of Sufism, the moderate, more flexible blend of Islam practiced by most Pakistanis.

The attack came three months after militants struck one of the country’s most important Sufi shrines in the city of Lahore, which left at least 42 people dead.

The first blast at the Karachi shrine occurred at the main gate. Police officials said that within 25 seconds, the second blast hit the steps leading up to the saint’s grave.

Rescuers said three children were among the dead.

Dr. Seemi Jamali, deputy director of the emergency ward at Jinnah Hospital in Karachi, where the wounded were taken, said “many of them have severe injuries, trauma to the head and neck.”

Television channels showed body parts strewn at the site and chaotic scenes of unnerved, sobbing survivors.

The home minister of Sindh Province, Zulfiqar Mirza, told reporters that the severed heads of two suspected suicide bombers had been recovered from the site. Police officials were more circumspect, saying it was premature to conclude that the attack was by suicide bombers.

Local TV channels reported later that Tehreek-e-Taliban, or Movement of Taliban, an umbrella group of militants, had claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is known to have trained cohorts of suicide bombers for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The attackers apparently chose Thursday night because it is one of the most crowded times of the week at the shrine, when hundreds throng to seek blessings from the saint and to receive free food.

The government closed all shrines in the city after the bombings.

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