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Pakistan Mosque Bombings Kills 59      01/31 11:32

   ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Thousands of Shiites across Pakistan mourned and protested 
Saturday after a bombing at a Shiite mosque in the country killed at least 59 
people.

   In Shikarpur, the site of the blast, mourners held a mass funeral for the 
dead in Friday's attack. Thousands of Shite mourners beating their chests and 
heads, wailing as other non-Shiites also took part.

   Shiites organizations also held protest sit-ins in different cities across 
Pakistan. Television footage showed some protesters burned tires and blocked 
roads, chanting slogans for arrest of the perpetrators and protection for 
Shiite worship places.

   The death toll in the blast rose Saturday after three victims died overnight 
from their wounds, said Abdul Qudoos Kalwar, a senior police official.

   The bombing happened in Shikarpur, roughly 500 kilometers (310 miles) north 
of Pakistan's port city of Karachi. That area of Pakistan has suffered 
comparatively little violence in contrast to the northwestern tribal areas 
bordering Afghanistan. Friday's bloodshed raised fears that extremists could be 
gaining a foothold in the region.

   The blast took place when about 250 worshippers gathered in the Shiite 
mosque for Friday prayers, Kalwar said. Dozens were wounded.

   On Saturday, investigators determined a suicide bomber caused the blast, 
said Saqib Memon, another senior police official in Shikarpur.

   U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "appalled by such vicious targeting 
of people on account of their religious affiliation," his spokesman said in a 
statement.

   The Sunni militant group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack. 
The militant group previously has claimed responsibility for attacks on Shiites 
and other religious minorities, including a 2013 double suicide bombing of an 
Anglican church in Peshawar that killed 85 people.

   Many Sunni extremists do not consider Shiites, who represent as much as 20 
percent of Pakistan's population, to be true Muslims. Sunni militants in 
Pakistan have bombed Shiite mosques, killed Shiite pilgrims traveling to 
neighboring Iran and assassinated Shiite religious figures and community 
leaders.


(KA)


 
 
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