By Gul Yousafzai
QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) – An explosion at a Muslim shrine in southwestern Pakistan killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, local officials said.
Hashim Ghalzai, a local district commissioner, told Reuters that the toll was based on initial reports, and could rise further.
The blast occurred at the Shah Noorani shrine, located in Baluchistan province, about 100km (62 miles) north of the port city of Karachi. It took place while hundreds of people were inside, said Ghalzai.
Dozens of wounded people were being moved to the nearby town of Hub and to Karachi, rescue official Hakeem Nasi told Geo TV.
The government dispatched 25 ambulances from Hub to the shrine, said Akbar Harifal, provincial home secretary for Baluchistan.
“Every day, around sunset, there is a dhamaal (ritual dance) here, and there are large numbers of people who come for this,” said Nawaz Ali, the shrine’s custodian.
Baluchistan has seen some of the worst militant attacks this year in Pakistan, one of which was claimed by an Islamist movement that is allied to the Islamic State group.
The province is also key to a $46 billion transport and trade corridor between Pakistan and China, which hinges on a deep-water port in the southwestern city of Gwadar.
(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Jon Boyle)