Asia

Pakistan bomb kills children near Shia procession

  • 24 November 2012
  • From the section Asia

Seven children and an adult have been killed by a roadside bomb near a Shia Muslim procession in north-western Pakistan.

The attacker struck in Dera Ismail Khan, a stronghold of Sunni militant groups who see Shia as non-believers.

More attacks are feared in the coming days as Shia Muslims mark the climax of the holy month of Muharram.

The Taliban said it carried out the bombing and that it had dispatched 20 suicide bombers around the country.

Pakistan has suspended mobile phone coverage in several major cities after a series of bomb attacks on Shias, detonated by mobile phones.

But the device used in Saturday's attack, near the South Waziristan tribal area, was set off by a television remote control device instead.

Police said that about 100 Shia were passing through the city to join a main procession when the bomb went off.

Most of those killed were Sunni, they said.

The bomb comes during a holy month for Shia Muslims

The youngest victim was six years old, they said. The power of the blast threw one boy on to the roof of a building.

Most of the dead were Sunnis, police said.

At least 17 people were wounded.

'Nefarious acts'

"The explosion was powerful and was heard many kilometres away," police officer Siddiq Khan told AFP news agency.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the bombing.

"Such nefarious acts cannot deter the people and the government in their fight against the scourge of militancy," he said in a statement.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says that in spite of an unprecedented security operation, there are fears of further attacks as Shias mark the Ashoura festival.

The authorities say there are intelligence warnings about possible attacks in several locations, including the southern port city of Karachi and the capital, Islamabad, our correspondent adds.

Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan quoted by AFP said: "We carried out the attack against the Shia community.

"The government can make whatever security arrangements it wants but it cannot stop our attacks."

More than a dozen people have already been killed this week observing Muharram.

On Sunday, Shias celebrate Ashoura, which commemorates the 7th Century death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

The schism between Sunni and Shia about his rightful heir dates from this time.

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