Suicide Bombing At Pakistani Sufi Shrine Kills At Least 18

Pakistani officials say a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in the country's southwest has killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 30.

The attack took place on October 5 in the Jhal Magsi district, which is located about 300 kilometers east of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province.

The attacker detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped for a routine search by a police officer guarding the Dargah Fatehpur shrine where hundreds of people had gathered to mourn the death of a local spiritual leader.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Pakistani security forces cordoned off the area and TV footage showed ambulances arriving at the scene of the blast.

Anwarul Haq Kakar, spokesman for the provincial government, said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition.

Mohammad Iqbal, a district police chief, said five children, a woman, and one police officer were among those killed.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack, saying in a statement that "terrorists have no religion."

He also said that his government will act against the perpetrators with full force.

A bombing at the same shrine in 2005 killed 35 people.

In February, militants of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Sindh Province in which 88 people were killed.

Sufism is a branch of Islam that espouses a mystical inner belief and incorporates music in its worship. It has been rejected as heretical by IS militants and other extremists, who hold a fundamentalist view of Islam.

The resource-rich Balochistan Province -- which borders Afghanistan and Iran -- has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by AP, Dawn, and Dunya TV