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3 killed, 59 injured in explosion during Muharram procession in Pak

Pak

Lahore (Pakistan), August 19: At least three people were killed and 59 others wounded when a bomb explosion ripped through a Shiite Muslim procession in central Pakistan on Thursday, officials said.


Security was high as the religious minority marked Ashura during the holy month of Muharram, a flashpoint for sectarian violence in previous years.
“We have confirmation of three dead and 59 injured from the blast at the procession site,” said a senior government official in the city of Bahawalnagar, in Punjab province.
Social media videos showed bleeding victims lying on a road being assisted by members of the public.
A local police officer, Kashif Hussain, also confirmed the death count to AFP.
“The nature of the explosion is not yet clear as a team is still collecting evidence from the scene,” he said.
Authorities have suspended mobile phone services in major cities as a security measure during Ashura processions. Residents in many urban centres were experiencing signal jams on Thursday. The streets leading to procession routes were also blocked.
Ashura commemorates the killing of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hussain at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD — the defining moment of the religion’s schism and the birth of Shiite Islam.
The procession later resumed and people continued with the ceremonies, the officials said.
Sectarian violence — in particular by Sunni hardliners against the Shiites who make up roughly 20 percent of Pakistan’s 220 million people — has erupted in fits and bursts for decades in Pakistan.


Anti-Shiite groups have bombed shrines and targeted Ashura processions in attacks that have killed thousands.
Hussain is equally revered by Sunnis, but hardliners oppose the public mourning of his martyrdom. (AFP)

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