Peshawar, Jan. 27 (AP): A suspected suicide attacker exploded a bomb near a Shia mosque in this northwestern Pakistani city late today, killing at least 11 people, including the city police chief, and wounding 35, police said.
Most of the victims were police and municipal officials who were clearing the route for a Shia Muharram procession in a crowded old quarter of Peshawar, said police officer Aziz Khan.
Provincial police chief Sharif Virk said that the city police chief Malik Saab was among the dead.
This weekend marks the start of Muharram when Shiias mourn the 7th century death of prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein. In the past, it has been a target for sectarian attacks.
The blast went off in the Qissakhwani Bazaar area, about 200 meters from the Imam Barga Najmul Hassan mosque from where the Shias had been preparing to start their procession. It caused a power outage that left the city centre in darkness, complicating rescue efforts.
At the bomb site, investigators found what appeared to be two detached legs from a suicide attacker, police officer Raza Khan said.
Eleven bodies and 35 wounded persons were brought to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, police said. Hundreds crowded around the hospital seeking information about their relatives. Hospital officials appealed for calm and blood donations.
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