The annual urs of celebration of the Sufi said Syed Cheezal Shah turned into a blood bath when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the shrine. As a result of the blast, 18 people were killed while 27 have been injured, out of which 14 are in critical condition.

The shrine is located in Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan, which is close to the Sindh border. Every year thousands of devotees flock to the shrine during Muharram to celebrate the urs of the great Sufi saint.

According to the details provided, the suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to Dargah Fatehpur, when he was stopped by a security official. The suicide bomber wanted to go to the main compound of the shrine where thousands of people were packed inside. Had he succeeded in his plans, the number of casualties would have been catastrophic.

The regional franchise of ultra-extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack via its news service, Amaq.

“The bomber was intercepted by a police guard at the entrance to the shrine. Failing to enter the premises, he triggered the explosives strapped to his body,” said SSP Jhal Magsi Muhammad Iqbal. “Apparently, he wanted to target the devotees gathered in the main compound of the shrine.”

According to official sources, the casualties include three children below the age of 12 and two policemen-one of whom had intercepted the terrorist at the entrance. “The brave police constable, Bahar Khan, laid down his life but saved several countless devotees by stopping the bomber from entering the main compound,” Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said.

This is the second time that Dargah Fateh Pur has come under terrorist attack. On March 20, 2005, a bombing took place at the shrine killing 49 devotees.