Death toll rises to 24 in Pakistan shrine suicide bombing

AP

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QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) The death toll from a suicide bombing at a Shiite shrine in the country's southwest increased to 24 after four victims died at a hospital overnight, police said Saturday.

A suicide bomber struck the shrine packed with worshippers in a remote village in Jhal Magsi district, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) east of Quetta in Baluchistan province on Thursday.

Senior police officer Mohammad Iqbal said that more than 20 victims were still receiving treatment, some with critical wounds.

The bomber detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped for a routine search by a police officer guarding the shrine. Five children, a woman and two police officers were among those killed.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The IS has claimed responsibility for several past attacks in Baluchistan, which has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists and separatists demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region's natural resources of oil and gas.

Sunni extremists and the IS perceive minority Shiites as apostates and have carried out many such attacks across the country.

At least 75 Shiites were killed in twin bombings at a market in Parachinar in the country's northwest In June this year. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian Sunni extremist group, claimed responsibility.

In February, an Islamic State group suicide bomber struck inside a famed Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province, killing 88 worshippes engaged in 'Dhamal,' a devotional dance.

Also on Saturday in Baluchistan, at least 13 people were killed and 20 others wounded when a passenger van collided head on with a bus on a highway near the provincial capital of Quetta.

Muqeem Baig, a spokesman for Quetta's main hospital, said victims were brought to the hospital from the accident site some 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the city. Such accidents are common in Pakistan, where motorists often disregard traffic rules and safety standards.

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