Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Suicide bomber targets worshippers

A man looks at burning cars in Quetta, Pakistan (AP)

A suicide car bomber has attacked Shiite Muslims in south-west Pakistan at the start of an Islamic holiday, killing at least 10 people, officials said.

The attack in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, happened as worshippers were heading home after morning prayers.

No group immediately claimed it carried out the bombing but Baluchistan is believed to be home to many Taliban militants who have targeted Shiites in the past.

The bomber was apparently targeting a Shiite mosque but could not get close enough because the road was blocked, said Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob.

Instead, the attacker detonated his explosives in a nearby car park, Mr Mahboob said.

It is unclear how many of the 10 people killed were Shiite worshippers or others who were hit by the blast as they were passing by, said Mr Mahboob.

The explosion also wounded at least 17 people and damaged nearby vehicles and buildings, he said.

The attack was a sombre beginning to Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. In Pakistan, the three-day holiday started on Wednesday while in many other parts of the Muslim world it began on Tuesday.

Many analysts believe Baluchistan is home to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and fighters have used the province as a convenient gateway to attack foreign troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has fought a decades-long insurgency in Baluchistan waged by nationalists who demand a greater share of the province's natural resources.

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