Pakistan says kills 100 'terrorists' after suicide shrine attack
Pakistani security forces killed dozens of suspected militants on Friday, a day after Islamic State claimed a suicide bombing that killed more than 80 worshippers at a Sufi shrine, the biggest in a spate of attacks this week across the country, Reuters reported.
The bombing at the famed Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Sindh province was Pakistan's deadliest attack for two years, killing at least 83 people and highlighting the threat of militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban and Islamic State.
"Over 100 terrorists have been killed since last night and sizeable apprehensions also made," the military said in an operations update on Friday evening.
"Terrorists will be targeted ruthlessly, indiscriminately, anywhere and everywhere. No let up," an armed forces spokesman added in a tweet.
With authorities facing angry criticism for failing to tighten security before the shrine bomber struck, analysts warned that the wave of violence pointed to a major escalation in Islamist militants' attempts to destabilize the region.
"This is a virtual declaration of war against the state of Pakistan," said Imtiaz Gul, head of the independent Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.
With pressure growing for action, Pakistan demanded that neighboring Afghanistan hand over 76 "terrorists" it said were sheltering over the border.
The bombings over five days have hit all four of Pakistan's provinces and two major cities, shaking a nascent sense that the worst of the country's militant violence may be in the past.
A series of military operations against insurgent groups operating in Pakistan had encouraged hopes that their leaders were scattered.
"But this has led to a degree of complacency within our civil-military leadership that perhaps they have completely destroyed these elements, or broken their back," Gul said.