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Pakistan: Attack On Sufi Shrine Foiled

Renowned Pashto poet Hamza Khan Shinwari, whose shrine was attacked

Renowned Pashto poet Hamza Khan Shinwari, whose shrine was attacked

Tribal security guards have foiled a bomb attack on the shrine of a Sufi poet in Pakistan's Khyber tribal area, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

On July 22, Several attackers tried to plant bombs at the shrine of Pashto poet Hamza Khan Shinwari but a security guard, who told RFE/RL his name is Ikram, opened fire on them.

After an exchange of gunfire, the guard telephoned for help from the political administration. Reinforcements arrived and forced the attackers to flee.

Ikram, who is a member of the Khasadar force of tribal police, told RFE/RL the attackers threw two hand grenades that destroyed a nearby shop and damaged the wall enclosing the Hamza Khan complex.

"I saw five people who came there and asked me to surrender," Ikram said. "I refused and did not let them come in. I phoned to other [tribal police] for help. They came and there was an exchange of fire. Then the attackers threw hand grenades which damaged the shrine complex."

No one was killed or injured in the attack. Eyewitnesses said the boundary wall of the complex was damaged and the windows of the Hamza Khan Library, which is part of the shrine, were smashed.

Attacks on Sufi shrines are common in northern Pakistan and some other parts of the country. Most such attacks are thought to be carried out by radical, Salafi-minded Taliban groups.

In March 2009, attackers blew up the shrine of Sufi poet Rehman Baba in Peshawar. That attack was widely condemned across the country.