Director General Health Services Sindh Dr Hassan Murad Shah on Saturday confirmed that the death toll from the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar attack had risen to 88 since Friday night.
According to an official list of casualties, which he shared with the media, 76 bodies were received and handled at the Shah Abdullah Institute of Medical Sciences, four at the People’s Medical University (PMH) Hospital in Shaheed Benazirabad, and eight at Chandka Medical University Hospital in Larkana.
The Sindh government will have the case investigated through Sindh police’s Counterterrorism Department (CTD), as was done in suicide bombings in Jacobabad during Ashura and at Shikarpur’s shrine, and then again last year in Shikarpur on the second day of Eidul Azha.
“There might be some handler or facilitator of the suicide bomber who must have provided him logistical support. Our initial assessment is that the suicide bomber must have been facilitated by three people,” he said.
According to a police official, “It will be premature to share anything or take any position at this point of time, as such cases always offer different angles of investigation and commenting on them immediately is likely to spoil the investigation or distract the authorities’ attentions.”
Sehwan police had lodged a case on Friday against one suicide bomber and three facilitators involved in the Feb 16 suicide bombing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The accused remained unidentified.
The First Information Report for the case was lodged for crime no 16/2017 under Sections 302, 353, 324, 295, 120/B, 440, 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 3/4 of the Explosive Substance Act and 6/7 of the Anti Terrorism Act.
A police source confirmed that an unspecified number of suspects were detained during raids at different places in Sehwan.
The shrine had not yet been opened to the general public due to security concerns. However, police authorities had decided to provide controlled access to devotees to the shrine. “Dhamaal will not be affected. It will be performed as per schedule, as was seen on Friday evening after the shrine was cleansed of debris, fittings, and other stuff that had fallen on the floor. The courtyard and inner sanctum of the shrine was also washed”, a source said. Police had also completed the geo-fencing part of the investigation.
Geo-fencing entails police and security agencies obtaining data of all calls, incoming and outgoing, that have touched the towers of different cell phone companies in a given area.
In the present case, the authorities have obtained data from all cell phone companies’ towers located in Sehwan and around the shrine. “After obtaining that data we then analyze that data to see which numbers are apparently suspicious from their frequent incoming and outgoing calls”, said a police officer.