At least eight killed during Shiite procession

An apparent suicide bombing ripped through a Shiite Muslim procession today in north-western Pakistan, killing at least eight people, injuring 40 and sparking riots during the Muslim sect’s most important holiday.

Army troops took control of the area and a curfew was imposed as the Shiites vented their anger by burning shops and cars in Hangu, about 125 miles south-west of the capital, Islamabad, said district police chief Ayub Khan.

“We thought the bomb was detonated by remote control, but now it appears to be a suicide attack,” Khan said.

The explosion hit a procession of hundreds of people in a bazaar soon after it emerged from the main Shiite mosque, said a senior Interior Ministry official.

“The situation is very grave there. People are fighting. Police are trying to control them. Our priority is to get the injured to hospital, but angry and emotional processionists are attacking police vehicles and even ambulances,” the official said.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said: “Right now, we are hearing that eight to 10 people were killed, but these reports are still to be confirmed.”

Sunni and Shiite clerics in Hangu used mosque loudspeakers to urge the faithful to calm down and avoid further violence.

“We are getting good support from local religious leaders, and the situation is under control,” said Sherpao.

However, local officials said they were still hearing gunshots.

The attack targeted Shiites observing Ashoura, the most revered religious holiday in their faith. The event marks the seventh-century death of Imam Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Hussain’s death led to a rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis over who should succeed the prophet.

Security was tight for the holiday because it has been marred by violence in recent years. Sunni Muslims, the majority in Pakistan, have been blamed for attacking the Shiites during the event, which involves religious processions across the country.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said: “I condemn this attack in the strongest terms. This is a conspiracy to trigger clashes between Sunnis and Shiites. No Muslim can do this thing.

"Whoever has done this thing is a terrorist.”

Top officials of North West Frontier Province, including chief minister Akram Durrani and chiefs of police and paramilitary forces, held an emergency meeting in the north-western city of Peshawar on how to control the situation, a provincial official said.

Sectarian attacks have plagued the Islamic nation for years.

Last March, 46 died in a bombing against a Shiite shrine in south-western town of Fatehpur. In March 2004, Sunni militants launched a suicide attack on an Ashoura procession of Shiites in the regional capital of Quetta, killing 44 people.

More on this topic

Two massive boats collided in Karachi Port and it was not a pretty sight! Two massive boats collided in Karachi Port and it was not a pretty sight!

Pakistani PM steps down amid corruption allegationsPakistani PM steps down amid corruption allegations

22 killed in blast at Pakistan market22 killed in blast at Pakistan market

Anger as mosque bombing kills 59Anger as mosque bombing kills 59

More in this Section

Younger children in school year ‘more likely to be diagnosed with depression’Younger children in school year ‘more likely to be diagnosed with depression’

Two jailed over Emiliano Sala mortuary footageTwo jailed over Emiliano Sala mortuary footage

English equestrian star, 15, died after pony landed on top of her, inquest toldEnglish equestrian star, 15, died after pony landed on top of her, inquest told

Iran criticises Boris Johnson after he attributes blame for Saudi attacksIran criticises Boris Johnson after he attributes blame for Saudi attacks


In January of 1994, RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman was given a diagnosis that would change his life.Examine Yourself: Getting cancer made sense of everything for Tommie Gorman

In aid of Cancer Awareness Week, we convinced four of our columnists to bare all for our Examine Yourself campaign.Examine Yourself: Baring all for Cancer Awareness Week

It was an effervescent and often moving turn by an artist with a meaningful claim to the title of world’s most interesting pop star.Ariana Grande's opening night at 3Arena in Dublin proved why she is the world's most interesting pop star

Marian Duggan was in her 20s and could not imagine that her symptoms could be so serious, not even when a tennis-ball-size cyst was removed from her left ovary, says Helen O’Callaghan.Examine Yourself: 'I thought I was too young to have cancer'

More From The Irish Examiner