Terror struck Sindh’s Jacobabad district, where a blast ripped through a mourning procession near the city’s Hajan Shah Dargah on Friday, killing 22 people and injuring 30 others.
The blast took place at about 7:30 pm when a Muharram 9 mourning procession, which started from the Dargah Hajan Shah, was passing through the city’s Lashari Muhalla.
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Witnesses described the wounded being rushed to hospital by ambulances and auto-rickshaws, and said there were children among the dead and injured. “We were some three kilometres from the spot and heard the blast,” Jan Odhano, a rights activist in Jacobabad, told AFP. Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary Rangers rushed to the scene soon after the incident, cordoned off the area and began shifting the dead and injured to the city’s Civil Hospital.
Jacobabad Deputy Commissioner Raja Shah Zaman Khuhro told The Express Tribune that 22 people were killed and 30 suffered injuries in the grisly incident.
Some of the deceased were identified as Saba, Aqsa, Amir Soomro, Soraj Khoso, Zahid Hussain, Mohammad Ali Khoso, Ali Asghar and two brothers – Qasim and Habibullah Jatoi. The number of fatalities could rise as some of the injured are said to be in critical condition.
According to reports, doctors were facing difficulties in tending to the injured due to the presence of a large number of mourners at the hospital. Some critical cases were referred to hospitals in Sukkur and Larkana.
According to media reports, Jacobabad’s senior superintendent of police (SSP) and Larkana’s deputy inspector general (DIG) told journalists that a severed head had been found at the crime scene, which might belong to the suicide bomber. But they cautioned against jumping to conclusion at this initial stage.
However, Sukkur’s bomb disposal squad In-charge DSP Tahir Malik said it was a suicide hit, in which ten kilos of explosives, ball bearings and nails were used. He said a 9 volt battery was also found from the spot.
Jacobabad Deputy Commissioner Khuhro said tension prevailed in the city and intense aerial firing could be heard. He said some unidentified persons also fired shots at his residence, making it difficult for him to venture out.
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After the incident, the mourners started shouting slogans against police and the district administration, which according to them, failed to provide foolproof security.
The protesters also did not allow Sindh Minister Mumtaz Jakhrani to visit the injured.
Witnesses said protesters had blocked roads at many spots in the city. There were also reports of clashes between demonstrators and police.
Some eyewitnesses claimed that the blast was the result of a security lapse as only a handful of policemen were deployed to provide security cover to the procession.
Jacobabad and Shikarpur have witnessed a string of terrorist and sectarian attacks over the past few years. Earlier, two suicide attacks were carried out on former MNA Dr Ibrahim Jatoi in 2010 and 2013. A bomb blast targeted the city’s Dargah Hajan Shah in February 2013 while a huge explosion ripped through its Imambargah’ Karbala Maula in January this year, killing more than 60 people. A blast had also targeted the convoy of a spiritual leader, Saen Hussain Shah Kamber Waro, in Jacobabad in 2013.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.