ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A bombing outside one of Pakistan’s most revered Sufi shrines killed at least 10 people, including five police officers, and injured at least 20 other people, officials said, raising new concerns about militant violence targeting a moderate and nonviolent strand of Islam.
The bombing took place Wednesday morning in Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, near the shrine of an 11th-century Sufi saint, Abul Hasan Ali Bin Usman, more popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh Hajveri. Police officials said the bombing destroyed a van carrying police commandoes who were providing security at the shrine.
Investigators were trying to determine who was behind the attack, which they said was a suicide bombing. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“There were no specific threat alerts to the shrine, but it is always considered to be a high-security zone,” said Ashfaq Ahmad Khan, the deputy inspector general for operations of the Lahore police.
The bombing broke a brief lull in militant violence in the country. It took place on the second day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. Militants often carry out attacks during the month in the belief that those who die in battle during Ramadan will get more blessings from God in the afterlife.
The targeted shrine, popularly known as Data Darbar, is one of the major monuments and cultural landmarks of Lahore and attracts hundreds of devotees daily. The shrine complex remains busy throughout the day and late evenings as visitors throng it for prayers and alms.
Adherents of Sufi Islam believe in mysticism and nonviolence, and Sufi saints are credited with spreading Islam throughout South Asia. But the Taliban and other Muslim militant groups spurn Sufi shrines and have often attacked Sufi mosques and shrines, accusing devotees of being heretics or apostates.
Punjab’s chief minister, Usman Buzdar called an emergency meeting to review security measures in the wake of the attack, officials said. Security has been put on high alert across ‘Punjab Province.