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AKIPRESS.COM - A suicide bomber turned a spiritual dance celebration at a revered religious shrine into a slaughterhouse on Thursday, killing at least 70 people and wounding more than 250 in the worst act of terrorism to hit Pakistan in months, media reported.
At least 50 of the wounded were critically hurt in the explosion at the Sufi shrine in a remote part of southern Pakistan, officials said. Many of the victims were women.
The Islamic State, the extreme Sunni militant organization based in Syria and Iraq, announced that its branch in the region had carried out the attack.
The Islamic State, which regards members of other Muslim groups as nonbelievers deserving death, also claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sufi shrine in southwestern Pakistan in November. Sufism, popular in Pakistan, is regarded as a relatively tolerant branch of Islam.
The shrine assault on Thursday was by far the worst in a wave of militant attacks that have shaken Pakistan this week, most claimed by the Taliban. The attacks were the catalyst for a decision on Thursday by the armed forces to close the border with Afghanistan, where Pakistani officials claim that many such attacks are coordinated and plotted.
A spokesman for the armed forces, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, announced on Twitter that the border closing was effective immediately.