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Bomb targeting religious procession kills 13 in Pakistan

Written By Ivan Kolev on Monday, January 16, 2012 | 10:39 PM

MULTAN, Pakistan –  A bomb blast ripped through a religious procession in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 13 people and wounding at least 20 in the latest sectarian attack in the country, police said.


Hundreds of Pakistani Shiites had gathered in the town of Khanpur in Punjab province for a traditional procession to mark the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered seventh-century figure.


The explosion went off as the mourners came out of a mosque, said District Police Chief Sohail Chatta. The bomb appeared to have been planted ahead of time in the path of the procession, he said.


No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.


The Pakistani Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups have in the past claimed responsibility for the bombings of Shiite religious sites and ceremonies. Many Sunni extremists in Pakistan regard Shiites as heretics.


The Taliban and other groups have carried out hundreds of bombings over the last five years that have killed thousands of Pakistani troops and civilians as part of a campaign to install a hard-line Islamist government.


Police officer Ghazanfer Ali said the crowd of mourners started throwing rocks at police after the blast. and officers had to lob tear gas canisters into the crowd to control them.


Officials had originally thought the explosion came from a malfunctioning electric cable, but later found that there had been a bomb, he said.


Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said police investigators were still examining the area for clues. Security had been provided for the procession, but it had been breached, Sanaullah said.


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