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Thousands mourn bombing victims

Thousands of Shiite Muslims, thumping their chests and crying, began mourning at funeral prayers after a triple bombing killed at least 35 people in the city of Lahore.

The blasts that targeted a Shiite procession on Wednesday were the first major attacks since floods devastated the country over the past month, destroying or damaging more than one million homes and prompting a major international relief effort.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik blamed the Taliban for the bombings.

"The Taliban - to whom I call oppressors and infidels - are looking for the soft targets," he said, adding the government was determined to crush militants and security forces were taking actions against them.

At least 250 people were wounded in the attacks on a street procession marking the anniversary of the death of caliph Ali, one of Shiite Islam's most respected holy men. Two of the blasts were apparently suicide bombs.

Afterwards, crowds torched a police station and vehicles. Authorities deployed paramilitary forces to restore order.

Sunni militants have launched dozens of attacks against Shiites and other Islamic sects and religions in Pakistan in recent years. The extremists believe it is permissible - even honourable - to kill members of other faiths.

Allied with al Qaida and the Taliban, the militants are also seeking to destabilise Pakistan's US-backed government through such attacks.

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