Bomb kills 25 at Shia funeral in Pakistan


Friday, 20 February 2009

A bomb tore through a funeral procession for a slain Shia Muslim leader in 
north-western Pakistan today, killing at least 25 people and wounding scores 
more, officials said. 

Rising sectarian attacks threaten to further destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan 
just as it faces intense international pressure to crack down on Islamist 

Friday's explosion struck a 1,000-strong crowd streaming toward a graveyard in 
Dera Ismail Khan for the burial of Sher Zeman, a Shiite leader who was gunned 
down in the city the day before. 

Ashiq Salim, a doctor at the main hospital in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, 
said 25 bodies had been brought there and that medics were scrambling to treat 
another 60 people who were wounded. 

Police said people angered by the attack fired on officers rushing to the 
scene, where TV footage showed a bloodstained street littered with shoes and 
torn clothing. 

An Associated Press reporter in the city heard the gunfire and said troops had 
arrived to help restore order. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. 

Relations between Pakistan's strong Sunni majority and Shiite minority are 
under growing strain from a series of attacks attributed to sectarian 

In the deadliest recent incident, a car bomb killed 29 people and wounded 
scores near a Shiite mosque in Peshawar in December. On Feb. 5, a suicide 
bomber killed 24 at a Shiite mosque in a central city. 

Much of the bloodshed has been in the northwest, where the Taliban have seized 
control of swaths of territory including the Swat Valley, where they have 
defied a yearlong army operation. 

Troops and militants have been observing a cease-fire in Swat since Sunday, 
when authorities announced a deal to introduce Islamic law in the area if 
militants lay down their arms. 

Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said 
Thursday that he had raised concern about the deal during a phone call with 
Pakistan's president. 

Holbrooke told CNN that President Barack Obama was worried "that this deal, 
which is portrayed in the press as a truce ... does not turn into a surrender." 

He said President Asif Ali Zardari had assured him it wouldn't. 

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