Sat, Feb 07, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Riots erupt after suicide bombing at Pakistan mosque

AP , DERA GHAZI KHAN, PAKISTAN

Hundreds of Shiite Muslims angered over a bloody suicide attack outside a mosque burned a police station in central Pakistan yesterday, police and witnesses said.

Police chief Maqsood Ahmed said protesters damaged shops and disrupted traffic in Dera Ghazi Khan by burning tires, increasing turmoil in a country battling militancy along the Afghan border and tension with India over the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Ahmed said the protesters were demanding the arrest of those who orchestrated the attack late on Thursday, and that officers were seeking help from Shiite leaders to restore order.

The violence came hours before the funerals for at least 27 people who died in the blast, which occurred as a crowd streamed into a Shiite mosque for an evening prayer ceremony.

Authorities usually blame extremist Sunni militant groups for such attacks. Although most of Pakistan’s majority Sunni and minority Shiites live peacefully, extremists on both sides often target each other’s leaders and Shiite rallies and places of worship are often attacked.

Meanwhile, suspected militants shot and killed two alleged US spies in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region near Afghanistan, said Tahir Khan, a tribal police official.

Both men were identified as Pakistanis, with notes pinned to their bodies that warned others to learn a lesson from their fate, he said. Insurgents have killed nearly two dozen suspected US spies in recent months.

Also yesterday, a suicide car bomber blew himself up in the troubled Khyber tribal region after tribal police signaled him to halt, said Bakhtiar Khan, a government official. He said four passers-by and two policemen were injured in the blast.

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