KARACHI, Pakistan — Two suspected suicide bombers attacked the most beloved Sufi shrine in Pakistan's largest city Thursday, killing at least eight people, wounding 65 others and sending a stark reminder of the threat posed by Islamist militants to this U.S.-allied nation.
Angry mobs burned tires and torched buses in the aftermath of the bombings in Karachi.
The attack came amid tensions between Washington and Islamabad over NATO helicopter incursions that have led Pakistan to close a key border crossing used to ferry supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan. Despite U.S. apologies over the incursions, one of which left two Pakistani soldiers dead, Islamabad said Thursday it had yet to decide when to reopen the crossing.
The explosions at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi happened on Thursday evening, the busiest time of the week for Sufi shrines across the country. Thousands typically visit the Ghazi shrine on Thursdays to pray, distribute food to the poor and toss rose petals on the grave of the saint. Ghazi was an 8th century saint credited with bringing Islam to the region along the coast. Local legend has it that his shrine protects Karachi from cyclones and other sea-related disasters.
Pakistani Sufi sites have frequently been the target of Islamist militant groups whose hardline interpretations of the religion leave no room for the more mystical Sufi practices that are common in this Sunni Muslim-majority nation of 175 million.