Twenty people including four women were killed on Sunday in the Mohammad Ali sanctuary in the province of the Pakistani province of Punjab by men armed with batons and knives.
Three suspects were quickly arrested, including the guardian of the sanctuary.
“The guardian of the site, aged 50, admitted having killed these people because he feared that they wanted to kill him,” declared the regional police chief, Zulfiqar Hameed.
“However, it could also be linked to a rivalry for the control of the sanctuary,” he added.
The prime minister of Punjab, Shabhaz Sharif, immediately asked the police to prepare a preliminary report within 24 hours.
For centuries, sufism was the majority form of Islam in Pakistan. However, this mystical branch of Islam propagated in the subcontinent by wandering preachers during the 13th century has been supplanted in recent years by Sunni currents, which are much more “conservative”.
And recently, the Taliban and ISIS have made a target of the Sufi sanctuaries which they regard as heretical.
It, therefore, seems that Sunday’s massacre in the sanctuary is a new blow against Muslim minorities in Pakistan.
Two days earlier, a bomb attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban took place in the market at Parachinar, the capital of the tribal zone of Kurramu, a Shiite-majority region in the northwest of Pakistan, causing at least 22 deaths and 57 wounded.
This was the second mass-crime perpetrated this year in Parachinar, which is located near the Afghan border. In February, a wave of attacks also caused more than 130 deaths, shocking Pakistanis after a period of relative calm.
The army reacted by launching a new offensive against the Taliban “insurgents”.
Like the Sufis, Shiite Muslims, who represent around 20% of the Pakistani population, are regarded as heretics by the Pakistani Sunni armed groups.
Jamaat Ul-Ahrar (JuA), a faction that is particularly active in the Pakistani Taliban movement, claimed responsibility for the Parachinar attack.
The day before on Thursday, March 30, an eminent member of Ahmadi minority in Pakistan was also killed by an armed man on a motorbike who managed to flee.
Responsibility for the murder was immediately claimed by the Al Alami factor of Lashkar e Jhangvi, linked to ISIS.
The victim, Malik Saleem Lateef, a sixty-year-old lawyer, was on his way to court in the Nankana Sahib district, one hundred kilometers from Lahore.
According to his son, he was killed because of his Ahmadi faith, a branch of Islam considered as heretical by the Sunnis and long persecuted in Pakistan.