An Islamic State suicide bomber killed more than 70 people and wounded around 200 others Thursday inside a crowded Shi’ite shrine in southern Pakistan.
Through its media wing, IS claimed responsibility for the attack in which women and children were among the victims in Sehwan, a remote town in Sindh province.
A military spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor, said troops, helicopters and a C-130 aircraft were dispatched to assist in rescue efforts.
District administration officials say a woman carried out the attack and her head has been retrieved from the scene.Separately the army said a roadside bomb struck a military convoy in southwestern Baluchistan province, killing three soldiers.
A wave of suicide bombings and other militant attacks have killed and wounded dozens of people this week across Pakistan.
The deadliest attack occurred Monday, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 100 others in the eastern city of Lahore.
The anti-state Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the violence.
General Ghafoor said recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan “are being executed on directions from hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan.”
He did not elaborate, but Islamabad often alleges Indian intelligence agencies, together with Afghan counterparts, are helping and funding fugitive members of the Pakistani Taliban to plot violence against Pakistan. Kabul denies the charges and India has not commented.
As a result of the shrine attack, Pakistan sealed its border with Afghanistan “with immediate effect until further orders due to security reasons,” said a late night military statement.
IS’s local franchise in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), has lately stepped up its extremist activities in both countries.
The terrorist group took credit for a Monday bomb blast in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. That attack left three security personnel dead and wounded eight others.
The loyalists of the Middle East-based terrorist group bombed a Sufi shrine in Baluchistan last November that killed over 60 people and wounded scores of others.