Wednesday 13 December 2017

Deadly attack hits Pakistan mosque

A Pakistani mourns the death of his relative after an earlier suicide bombing (AP)
A Pakistani mourns the death of his relative after an earlier suicide bombing (AP)

Militants have opened fire on a Shiite Muslim mosque in Pakistan where worshippers were gathering for Friday prayers, and then a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside, killing at least 15 people, police say.

It was the latest in a series of attacks aimed at the minority sect. The attack hit the city of Peshawar, on the outskirts of Pakistan's tribal area, the main sanctuary for Islamic militants. They have targeted the city with scores of bombings in recent years.

Three militants began the attack on the mosque, inside a Shiite religious school, by firing and wounding a policeman who was standing guard outside.

The militants then entered the mosque, where one of them detonated his suicide vest. The other two militants escaped, and police launched a search to find them. Scores of people were wounded.

Zawar Hussain, who was inside the mosque when the attackers struck, said their firing set off panic among the roughly 300 worshippers inside. Then came the explosion. "After the blast, I fell down. People were crying for help," said Hussain. "I saw bodies and badly injured worshippers everywhere."

Local TV video showed blood splattered on the floor and walls of the mosque. Broken glass littered the floor, and there were holes in the walls and ceiling caused by ball bearings packed in with the bomber's explosives to cause maximum damage and casualties. Relatives at a local hospital wailed in grief as rescue workers wheeled in wounded victims, their clothes soaked in blood.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Radical Sunni Muslims who consider Shiites to be heretics have stepped up attacks against the minority sect in Pakistan over the last several years.

On Saturday, a bomb that appeared to be targeting Shiites ripped through a bus carrying female university students in the southwest city of Quetta, killing 14 people. Militants then attacked a hospital where wounded victims were taken, killing more people.

The militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack in Quetta and could be suspected in Friday's Peshawar attack as well.

Press Association

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