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18 killed several injured in Pakistan shrine blast

18 KILLED SEVERAL INJURED IN PAKISTAN SHRINE BLAST

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a sufi shrine in Pakistan's restive southwest Thursday, killing 18 people and wounding at least 22 others.

Eighteen people were killed and 22 others injured in a suicide blast at a shrine in southwestern Balochistan province on Thursday, according to officials and local media reports.

A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the Sufi shrine in remote Jhal Magsi district of the province, minutes before sunset when hundreds of devotees were attending a religious congregation, local broadcaster Geo TV reported quoting police officials.

Dr. Rukhsana Magsi, an in charge of a district hospital in Jhal Magsi, confirmed the casualty toll in remarks to the media.

Deputy Commissioner of Jhal Magsi, Asadullah Kakar, told reporters, adding that the administration had declared an emergency in the district and nearby hospitals, and additional doctors and paramedical staff had also been called in.

Provincial government spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar told reporters the police had tried to confront the suicide bomber, which resulted in the death of a policeman.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Health officials fear a sharp rise in the death toll since dozens of injured were said to be in critical condition.

Footage aired on local TV channels showed local people rushing to the scene and shifting victims into private vehicles before taking them to nearby hospitals.

According to city police chief Mohammad Iqbal, the critically injured were being shifted to relatively better equipped hospitals in nearby districts.

In February, a suicide blast on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar -- a famous Sufi saint -- in southern Sindh province's Sehwan town had killed over 90 people and injured around 400. Daesh had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the terrorist attack.

In a statement, Abbasi said: "Terrorists have no religion. We will not allow them to disturb our peace and values; they will be dealt with the full might of the state."

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