Pakistan launched a crackdown Friday after the death toll in a shrine blast claimed by ISIS increased to 88, the deadliest in a wave of attacks that have been targeting the country.
The attack came after a series of bloody extremist assaults this week, including a powerful Taliban suicide bomb in the eastern city of Lahore which killed 13 people and wounded dozens.
Thursday’s attack was the deadliest in Pakistan after the Dec. 16, 2014 assault on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 154 people, mostly schoolchildren. A Taliban-linked group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for that attack.
Police Friday cordoned off the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province, some 200 kilometers northeast of financial hub Karachi.
The centuries-old shrine’s floor was smeared with blood, scattered with shoes, shawls, and baby bottles.
Health officials said the number of people killed in the shrine blast had jumped to 88, including at least 20 children.
Security officials said at least 18 terrorists had been killed in overnight raids in Sindh province, and 13 more in the country’s northwest.
Most of the operations were carried out by the paramilitary Rangers.
Pakistanis vented their grief and fury at the bombings on social media and with small protests in some cities.
“The government should identify and punish these terrorists,” Gulam Shabbir Bhatti, a resident of Sehwan, said.
Also Friday, the Pakistani military handed over to Kabul a list of 76 suspected “terrorists” allegedly hiding in Afghanistan, demanding they be captured and extradited to Islamabad. A statement from the military said the list was given to Afghan officials at the Pakistani army’s sprawling headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The military did not specify who was on the list, but it has long claimed that the head of Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, and other militants are hiding on Afghan soil with the purpose of fomenting violence inside Pakistan.