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Death toll in Pakistan shrine attack rises to 20

The death toll from a suicide attack at a crowded Shia shrine claimed by the Islamic State group in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province has risen to 20, officials said on Friday.

The attacker tried to enter the Dargah Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan last evening and detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped by the police at the entrance, according to Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Kakar.

At least 20 people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the bombing, Dawn reported, quoting District Chairman Jhal Magsi Aurangzaib Magsi as saying.

Earlier, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti had put the death toll from the bombing at 18.

The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement carried by its propaganda ‘Amaq’ news agency.

The blast took place when there was a heavy rush of devotees who had gathered at the shrine to pay their respect.

Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a sufi dance called ‘dhamaal’ and prayers.

Mr. Bugti said the shrine was holding its annual Urs and hundreds of devotees from all over the country had come to the place to pay their respects.

A bomb attack on the same shrine killed 35 people in 2005.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack and vowed that his government will act against militants with full might.

The attack is the second major strike at a shrine in Balochistan where in November 2016, at least 52 people were killed and 102 injured in a blast at the shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar district.

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