Pakistan security force says it has killed more than 100 suspected “terrorists” in a massive countrywide crackdown on Friday, a day after a massive bombing claimed by Islamic State that killed more than 80 worshippers and injured nearly 250 at a crowded Sufi shrine in Sindh province. The suicide bombing at the popular shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the southern province on Thursday was one of the deadliest in Pakistan in years and the biggest in a spate of attacks this week across the country.

Thursday’s suicide bombing, stunned the country and raised questions about Pakistani authorities’ ability to rein in militant groups despite the Army’s offensive action against insurgents. The Pakistani administration responded strongly, with the country’s military chief vowing immediate revenge and saying that restraint would not be shown for anyone. Raids were still underway across the country, including in the province of Punjab where several extremists have died in gun battles in current days, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor. Overnight raids targeting militant hideouts also led to the arrest of 47 suspects, security officials said.

Members of the Pakistani bomb disposal team search for evidence at the shrine. Photo Courtesy:-(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The paramilitary forces and army launched operations in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, Baluchistan provinces and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. “Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made,” said a statement from the military’s media arm. Paramilitary Sindh Rangers said eighteen militants were killed in different parts of Karachi in Thursday’s overnight operations in the province and scores were arrested in different cities.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing released a statement saying, “The intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind the recent terrorism incidents.” The statement further said the military has found links between the attacks and militant networks operating across the border in Afghanistan. Government officials said the massive crackdown would continue countrywide over the coming days, following a week of bloody terror attacks claimed by both Daesh/ISIS/ISIL and a faction of the Taliban.

Pakistani security personnel stand guard at the 13th century Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar a day after a suicide attack in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, 200 km northeast of provincial capital Karachi, killed 81 people, including 20 children. Photo Source:- (Twitter/Amnestypress)
Pakistani para-military soldiers stand alert after a deadly suicide attack at the shrine of famous Sufi Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan. Photo Courtesy:- AP

Soon after the Shrine explosion, Pakistan claimed that it was carried out by the militant sanctuaries from across the border in Afghanistan. The Pakistani armed forces said the country’s border with Afghanistan had been closed since Thursday night for security reasons and all unauthorised entry or cross-border entry would be stopped. It has accused its neighbour country of maintaining terrorists, sending a list of 76 suspected people of planning or supporting attacks in Pakistan, while Afghanistan has made the same allegation.

Afghan embassy officials were summoned on Friday to the military’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi and asked to hand over 76 suspected terrorists “hiding in Afghanistan” (with the purpose of fomenting violence inside Pakistan). Pakistan demanding immediate take action against named suspects by Afghan authorities and their extradition to Islamabad, Pakistani military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

The Islamic State (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the Thursday’s attack through its Aamaq news agency, saying that a suicide bomber had targeted a “Shiite gathering” at the shrine in Sindh. ISIS claimed the jihadi group had carried out Thursday’s bombing. The suicide attack was the latest such attack on devotees of Sufism (Sufi–a Muslim ascetic and mystic and generally moderate form of Islam) despised by radical fanatics.

A woman whose relatives were killed in the blast is comforted near the shrine. Photo Courtesy:- (Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Pakistan has seen a rise in terrorist attacks in recent days, including an attack on peaceful protest rally in the eastern city of Lahore that killed 13 people, another bombing in the Balochistan provincial capital, Quetta that killed two police officers, a suicide bombing at a government office in the Mohmand tribal area and an explosion in the frontier city of Peshawar, killing six people.

The Pakistani armed forces said the country’s border with Afghanistan had been closed since Thursday night for security reasons and all unauthorised entry or cross-border entry would be stopped. Photo Source:- Al Jazeera

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the town of Sehwan in Sindh province on Friday where the latest suicide bombing took place.

The Pakistani military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had reacted strongly to the Thursday’s terror attack and vowed revenge for the attacks.

Military chief general Javed Bajwa appealed for “keep calm” and told Pakistani citizens, “Your security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed. We stand for our nation.” General Bajwa added. But, in a strong worded statement, he vowed: “Each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to eliminate the terrorists wherever they are “with the full force of the state,” his comments at a meeting held in the aftermath of Thursday’s bombing.

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