Bombings Targeting Pakistan Religious Minorities Kill More Than 50
September 03, 2010
Police in Pakistan say more than 50 people were killed today in two suicide bomb attacks targeting religious minorities in separate cities.
In the most serious incident, more than 50 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of a procession of Shi'ite Muslims in the southern city of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan Province.
The procession, in the city's Mizan Square, was to mark the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an international celebration held on the last Friday of Ramadan by some Muslims to show solidarity with the Palestinians and opposition to Israel's control of Jerusalem.
More than 100 people were reported injured and the local government declared the situation for the injured in hospitals an "emergency."
The sound of gunfire was also heard in and around the site of the blast for some time. It stopped when law enforcement and paramilitary personnel cordoned off the area.
Locals said several people were injured in the gunfire, which was apparently indiscriminate. Among the injured were five journalists who had been covering the procession.
Gul Khan witnessed the explosion from a few meters away.
"The procession was coming here and when the leader started addressing them, there was a blast," he told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. "After that, everyone started running here and there. There were many dead lying on the ground, 30 to 40.
He said the gunfire that followed the blast "continued for almost 30 minutes, and no one knew what is happening."
Earlier, another suicide attack was carried out near a mosque belonging of the minority Ahmadi sect in the northern city of Mardan. At least one person was killed and three others injured.
According to a local police officer, Waqif Khan, the attacker attempted to enter the mosque, resulting in a violent confrontation with mosque security guards.
"The guards outside the mosque intercepted the bomber. He had a hand grenade and did not stop," he said. "But [the guards] opened fire at him and [he] was injured, following which he detonated himself."
Today's attacks follow multiple suicide bombs targeting a Shi'ite rally in the eastern city of Lahore on September 1 that killed about 35 people and wounded 300 more.
with agency reports
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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