Lahore/Karachi: Suicide bombers carried
out attacks targeting Shia Muslims in the Pakistani cities of
Lahore and Karachi today, killing 15 people and injuring
nearly 80 others in the latest series of terrorist strikes
against religious minorities in the country.
In the first attack in the eastern city of Lahore, a
teenage suicide bomber today blew himself up when he was
challenged by policemen guarding a Shia procession.
The attack occurred at Lahori Gate near Karbala Gamay
Shah, a Shia `imambargah` or prayer hall.
Lahore Police chief Aslam Tareen said the bomber, who
was 14 or 15-year-old, detonated his explosive vest when he
was stopped for checking.
Besides the vest, the bomber was carrying explosives
in a bag, he said.
The face of the bomber, minus the skull, had been
found by police, he said.
"The attacker detonated his explosive vest at the
first layer of security, where policemen were checking people
(joining the procession), Superintendent of Police (Security)
Faisal Rana told reporters.
Thirteen people, including a woman and four
policemen, were among the dead. Over 70 people were injured.
Zahid Pervez, the medical superintendent of Mayo
Hospital, described the condition of 10 of the injured as
The second bomber struck a short while later,
targeting a police van in the Malir area of Karachi.
Two policemen were killed and five others, including
three policemen, injured in the attack.
The attacker, who was on a motorcycle, rammed into the
police van shortly after two buses carrying Shia Muslims
returning from a procession had passed the area.
Police officials said the bomber struck after the van
prevented him from hitting one of the buses.
Officials told the media they had found the head of
the bomber and sent it for DNA and forensic tests.
In Lahore, police chief Aslam Tareen said authorities
had received alerts of possible attacks on Shia processions.
He said the multi-layered security arrangement put in
place by police had prevented the bomber from reaching the
Search and sweep operations were being conducted in
the city to trace terror suspects, he said.
State-run Rescue 1122 spokesman Fahim Jehanzeb told
PTI that the blast in Lahore occurred minutes before the Shia
procession reached the spot.
A suspect was arrested from the site of the blast,
other officials said.
Shia Muslims across Pakistan are observing the
`chehlum` of Hazrat Imam Hussain today and a large procession
that originated from the old quarters of Lahore was to
culminate at Karbala Gamay Shah in Bhatti Gate.
The attack occurred despite extensive security
arrangements put in place in major cities and towns to protect
Shia processions. About 6,000 security personnel were deployed
to guard processions in Lahore alone.
An emergency was declared in hospitals across Lahore
and Karachi following the blasts.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani condemned the attacks.