Up to six people, all of them civilians, have been killed in a bomb blast at a Sufi Muslim shrine in central Pakistan.
The blast went off outside the mausoleum of the 12th-century saint Baba Farid Shakar Ganj, in Pak Pattan district of the country's Punjab Province.
The blast came days after another such explosion at the mausoleum of 8th-century saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. That shrine is located not far from Bilwal House, an office and residence of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Pak Pattan district police chief Muhammad Kashif told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the explosion took place around 6:20 a.m. local time. He said the explosives were planted on a bike parked near the shrine.
At least one woman was among the dead while more than 10 people sustained injuries, city administrator Aslam Hayat told journalists after the blast.
The shrine's caretaker, Azmat Deewan, told RFE/RL that the government had failed to ensure security.
"This is a great injustice. They [the attackers] will not succeed, inshallah. The Sufis spread Islam in the world and they served the religion," Deewan said. "The shrines should not be sealed for security reasons. Doing so will be the government's failure."
There's been no claim of responsibility for the bomb blast, which did not damage the mausoleum.
'What Kind Of Jihad Is This?'
The blast drew widespread condemnation from across Pakistan's religious and political spectrum.
"[The attackers] are defaming the religion of Islam and Islamic values. What kind of jihad is this by targeting those offering prayer in mosques?" asked Sahibzada Fazal Karim, chairman of the Sunni Tehrik Council, a body of religious scholars that aims to foster religious harmony in Pakistani society.
Sufi shrines in Pakistan are generally considered as symbols of religious harmony, as well as centers that promote cultural activities.
Raj Wali Shah Khattak, an expert on culture and social affairs and director of the Pashto Cultural Center at the University of Peshawar, said the shrines are unique from a cultural as well as a religious point of view.
"These [shrines] are our historical and artistic heritage. They represent the Islamic thoughts that connect us to our history from several points of view," Khattak said. "The bombing of shrines not only symbolizes sectarianism, but also seems to be an organized movement against our culture."
Scores of shrines, including that of the 16th-century Sufi saint Rehman Baba, had already been bombed and destroyed in Pashtun-dominated northwestern Pakistan.
with agency reports