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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Death toll rises to 24 in Pakistan shrine suicide bombing

A suicide bomber struck the Shiite shrine packed with worshippers in a remote village in Baluchistan province on Thursday

A Pakistani soldier stands guard after the suicide attack at a Shiite shrine in Jhal Magsi on October 5, 2017. Amir Hussain / Reuters
A Pakistani soldier stands guard after the suicide attack at a Shiite shrine in Jhal Magsi on October 5, 2017. Amir Hussain / Reuters

The death toll from a suicide bombing at a Shiite shrine in Pakistan's south-west has increased to 24 after four victims died in hospital overnight, police said on Saturday.

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

Senior police officer Mohammad Iqbal said 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.

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ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack. The extremist group 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.

ISIL militants and other Sunni extremists 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 north-west in June. The Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for that attack.

In February, an ISIL suicide bomber struck inside a famed Sufi shrine in the southern province of Sindh, killing 88 worshippers 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 motorway 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 32 kilometres south of the city. Such accidents are common in Pakistan, where motorists often disregard traffic rules and safety standards.