Blast at Shia procession kills 30 in Karachi

A suicide bomber targeted the Shia Muharram procession killing at least 30 and injuring 60 others.

Updated: Dec 29, 2009, 08:21 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Karachi: A suicide bomber targeted the
Muslim Shia Ashura procession killing at least 30 people and
injuring 60 others in a sectarian hit here, marking a bloody
start of the holiest day of Muharram.

"So far, according to information, more than 25 people have been (killed) and more than 50 are wounded," Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.

The minister said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives at the start of the procession.

The terrorist suicide attack came close on the heels
of a militant bombing that killed eight people in Pakistan-
Occupied-Kashmir capital of Muzaffarabad and Karachi
last night.

It was the third sectarian attack on the minority
community in as many days in the port city of Karachi and came
inspite of police and security agencies enforcing a massive
vigil over the traditional procession route.

"Fifteen people were killed and many others wounded in
the attack," District administration chief Javed Hanif said.

Rescue officials said over 50 injured people were
taken to nearby hospitals. Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed
said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

"We have retrieved a head of a bomber which confirms
it was a suicide attack," he told media. The procession was
headed towards a nearby imambargah.
Dense smoke rose from the site of the blast as people
ran in panic. Witnesses and reporters said police fired in the
air immediately after the explosion.

Ambulances rushed the injured to nearby hospitals,
where an emergency was declared. Authorities had put in place
strict security arrangements for Muharram, during which
Karachi has often been hit by sectarian violence in past

A large police contingent was guarding the procession
and sharp shooters were deployed on rooftops on key roads.
However, the bomber managed to evade the security ring.

Angry members of the procession attacked media and
police personnel and set five cars on fire. Two Muharram
processions in Karachi were targeted by bomb attacks over the
past two days.

Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal appealed for calm.

"I want to appeal to the people, to my brothers, my elders to stay calm. I am hearing people are clashing with police and doctors. Please do not do that. That is what terrorists are aiming at. They want to see this city again on fire," he said.

Nearly 50 people, including women and policemen, were
injured in these attacks. No group has claimed responsibility
for these attacks.

Security has been tightened across Pakistan for Ashoura, which is the 10th day of the holy month of Muharram, a month of mourning commemorating the seventh-century death of the Prophet Muhammad`s grandson. Muharram has often been marred by bombings and fighting between Pakistan`s Sunni Muslim majority and its Shiite minority. Some parts of the Muslim world celebrated Muharram on Sunday.

Malik said he had appealed to the Shiite community to cancel processions for the next two days.

"That does not mean that we are trying to interfere in their religious affairs, but we are doing it for the sake of security and to save precious lives," he said.

The bombing was the latest in a wave of violence to hit Pakistan since the Army started taking on Islamist militants allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban, with terrorist strikes killing 500 people since October.

Karachi has largely been spared the Taliban-linked violence that has struck much of the rest of the country. But the city has been the scene of frequent sectarian, ethnic and political violence.

Monday`s attack came after a suicide bomber struck a Shiite procession Sunday in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, killing eight people and wounding another 80.

Agencies inputs