Saturday, September 4, 2010

53 killed, 197 wounded in Pakistan suicide bombing: Police

53 killed, 197 wounded in Pakistan suicide bombing
At least 53 people were killed and 197 have been wounded on Friday in a suicide bombing targeting a Shiite Muslim rally in the southwest Pakistan city of Quetta, police said. "According to the reports collected from hospitals, 53 people have been killed and 197 have been injured," Sardar Khan, chief of Quetta's police control room said over telephone. The blast occurred around 3 pm when an estimated 2000 people gathered in Quetta's Meezan Chowk to mark solidarity with the Palestinian people on Al-Quds Day. The rally was organized by the Shia Imamia Students Organization. Every year, on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, rallies take place across Pakistan, to support the Palestinian demand for a homeland. After the blast, the mourners turned violent and armed people resorted to aerial firing which continued for some two hours.

Television footage showed smoke billowing into the air on a chaotic street with people fleeing and others lying prone next to motorcycles, taking cover from gunfire. The injured were rushed to civil and police hospitals, Quetta. The attack came two days after triple suicide bombings, targeting a Shia procession, killed 39 people and wounded more than 200 others in Lahore. The Shia community was observing the death anniversary of Hazrat Ali, Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. According to media reports, Punjab-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which claimed responsibility of the Lahore attack also accepted that they carried out the Quetta blast.

A day earlier, Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned of possible suicide attacks on religio us gatherings and called Shia Muslims to hold their religious ceremonies indoors. The police chief of Baluchistan, Malik Iqbal told media that they warned organizers of the ceremony to stick inside a cordoned off area after intelligence officials received reports about a possible terror attack. "It was a suicide attack," Iqbal said. Shia leader Allama Abbas Kumaili appealed the people to stay calm, "We understand that these are attempts to bring Sunni and Shia sects against each other," he told a Pakistani TV channel. Kumaili said the attacks against minority sects were a result of government failure. "Our government concentrates all its efforts to secure VIPs. Common men are not their priority," he said.

The Quetta blast was one of three attacks reported in Pakistan on the final Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan. Earlier on Friday, at least person one person was killed and four wounded when a suicide bomber could not reach his intended target and his strapped explosives went off just outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect. "A suicide bomber was trying to enter the Ahmadis worship place, but he was intercepted by the guards outside and blew himself up," Mardan police chief said. Ahmadi community was constitutionally declared non-Muslims by Pakistan in 1973. In the northwest city of Peshawar, which has often been targeted by militants, one police official was killed and three injured when a bomb exploded near their patrol vehicle. The policemen were checking vehicles on Peshawar's ring road when the bomb was detonated by remote control, said senior police official Mohammad Karim Khan.


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