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Pilgrims Return to Shrine in Defiance of IS

Pilgrims Return to Shrine in Defiance of ISPilgrims Return to Shrine in Defiance of IS

Pilgrims have returned to their shrine in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province less than a day after it was targeted in a suicide attack, in defiance of IS that claimed the bombing.

Thursday's blast, which killed at least 88 people and wounded hundreds as they performed a ritual, was the worst attack on Pakistani soil since a 2014 school attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar, which killed at least 154, mostly children.

On Friday evening, about 150 residents of the southern town of Sehwan returned to the shrine of Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi, better known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a revered 13th-century Sufi philosopher and poet venerated by millions across South Asia.

Caretakers washed and cleaned the white marble floors, which were streaked with blood and scattered debris, as others prepared for the evening ritual of the dhamaal-a blend of devotional percussion and whirling movements.

"This is Lal Shahbaz Qalandar; any terrorist, any number of terrorist attacks will not scare us. The dhamaal will continue and must continue," said Ali Otho, a worshipper.

Devotees said they would not allow anyone, attackers nor police seeking to secure the location, to stop them from praying at the grave of their patron saint.

Security forces, meanwhile, launched a series of raids following the attack, killing at least 100 people, all identified as "terrorists".

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify that figure, which was cited in a military statement on Friday.

The raids followed the closure of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, where the government says Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other armed groups enjoy safe havens.

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