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Pakistan suicide bombing death toll rises to 8

A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday at a checkpoint at the entrance to a mosque

In this photo released by Pakistan Press Information Department, President Asif Ali Zardari, right, and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani pray during ...

In this photo released by Pakistan Press Information Department, President Asif Ali Zardari, right, and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani pray during ...

The death toll from a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim gathering in the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir increased to eight yesterday, police said, as minority Shiites marked the key holy day of Ashura.
Another 80 people were wounded in Sunday night's bombing in Muzaffarabad - a rare sectarian attack in an area police say has little history of militant violence. The dead included three police, said police official Yasin Baig, adding that another 10 police were among the wounded.
The suicide bomber set off explosives he was carrying as police searched him outside a ceremony commemorating the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.
Security has been tightened across Pakistan during Muharram, and particularly for Monday's Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, a month of mourning that is often marred by bombings and fighting between Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority and its Shiite minority.
In the northwestern city of Peshawar, which has been repeatedly hit by suicide bombings in the past months, thousands of police were guarding processions, and troops were on standby, local police chief Liaqat Ali Khan said.
More than 500 people have been killed in attacks across Pakistan since October. Insurgents are suspected of avenging a U.S.-supported Pakistani army offensive against the Taliban in a northwest tribal region along the Afghan border. Maj. Aurangzeb Khan said paramilitary forces were deployed and were carrying out helicopter patrols in the southern port city of Karachi, where a blast that authorities attributed to a buildup of gas in a sewage pipe wounded about 30 people on Sunday. "Our men will remain with all the processions till their culmination," Khan said.
To the east in Lahore, all entry and exit points to processions were blocked to traffic and anyone joining a procession had to pass through scanners, said police official Chaudhry Shafiq.
After Sunday night's bombing in Kashmir's Muzaffarabad, Baig, the police official there, said Shiite mourners at the commemoration ceremony took to the streets to protest the bombing, with some firing shots in the air. Baig said authorities restored order within about an hour.
He said it was the first time a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite gathering in the region. Muslim militants have fought for decades to free Kashmir, which is split between India and Pakistan and claimed by both, from New Delhi's rule. But while Muzaffarabad has served as a base for anti-India insurgents to train and launch attacks, the capital has largely been spared any violence, with militants focusing on the Indian-controlled portion.
The bombing highlights the growing extremism of militants in Pakistani Kashmir. Many armed groups were started with support from Islamabad. But some of them have turned against their former patrons and joined forces with the Taliban because the government has reduced its support under U.S. pressure.

Updated : 2021-07-31 21:13 GMT+08:00