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Three die in Rawalpindi mosque blast

Suicide attack highlights rising violence towards minority Shia Muslims

ucanews reporter, Rawalpindi

December 18, 2013

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At least three people were killed and more than a dozen wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a minority Shia mosque in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, officials said.

The blast occurred in the parking lot of the Asna Ashri Imambargah, located in the Gracy Line area of the garrison city. Gracy Line is a high security area, situated between military buildings, the airport and an air base.

The alleged bomber attempted to enter the prayer hall on a motorbike, but was turned away by police. Instead, the man then detonated his explosive-filled vest in the parking lot, said Officer Akhtar Umar Lalika, a police spokesman.

Among the dead were two police officers, Lalika said. Most of those who sustained injuries in the blast also were police officers, he added.

Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, a Shia political party, strongly denounced the terrorist attack.

Hundreds of party members staged a protest in front of the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, where most of the injured were being treated.

Party head Allama Nasir Abbas condemned the government for its failure to crack down on terror, despite frequent attacks.

“Many political parties are openly supporting terrorists,” he said.

The latest attack comes a day after prominent Shia scholar Allama Nasir Abbas Multani was killed in a drive-by shooting in Lahore.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Pakistani Taliban and its affiliates such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have conducted several attacks in 2013 on the country’s Shia Muslims and non-Muslim religious minorities, claiming responsibility for most major bombings and vowing further violence.

More than 800 Shia Muslims have been killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan since 2012, including about 400 so far this year, Human Rights Watch said.

Earlier in the day, police in Karachi thwarted an attack on a polio vaccination team, killing one attacker and arresting his accomplice, Agence France-Presse reported.

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