People identify the bodies of their relatives at the scene of twin suicide… (Naeem Sindhu / European…)
Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan — Two suicide bombers killed at least 42 people at a shrine in central Pakistan on Sunday, the latest in a series of attacks on places of worship linked to sects opposed by militants.
The attack occurred at Sakhi Sarwar, a Sufi shrine in a village outside the southern Punjab city of Dera Ghazi Khan. In the past, Sufi shrines have been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups that regard the strain of Islam to be tantamount to heresy.
More than 1,000 people had gathered at the shrine when the bombers detonated suicide vests filled with explosives. One bomber's vest did not completely explode, and television footage showed the man writhing on the ground while rescue workers removed the vest and treated him.
Natiq Hayat, an emergency coordinator for the Dera Ghazi Khan district, said at least 80 people were injured in the blasts, 30 of them critically.
The Pakistani Taliban, the country's homegrown insurgency, and Sunni Muslim extremist groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba have frequently targeted sites belonging to sects they oppose. Reuters reported that the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.
In October, a bomb planted on a motorcycle killed five people at a famed Sufi shrine in the town of Pakpattan in Punjab province, about 110 miles southwest of Lahore. That same month, two suicide bombers attacked crowds visiting a shrine in the country's largest city, Karachi, killing at least eight people and injuring 65 others. The Karachi blasts targeted worshipers at a shrine for Abdullah Shah Ghazi, an 8th century Sufi Muslim saint.
Last summer, twin suicide blasts killed 42 people visiting Pakistan's most popular Sufi shrine, Data Darbar, in the eastern city of Lahore. Earlier in 2010, a team of gunmen and suicide bombers killed 93 people in attacks on two mosques belonging to the minority Ahmadi sect.