Jacobabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A suicide bomber has killed at least 22 people, wounding at least 40, as they took part in a Shia procession in Jacobabad, in southern province of Sindh. At least five children are among the dead.
This is the second attack in as many days against the Shia community, a minority in Pakistan, on the eve of Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and 72 followers by troops of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I.
Right after the attack, a group of angry residents took to the streets, threw stones at police and set vehicles on fire, complaining of the lack of security for the Shia minority.
Before leaving on a visit to the United States, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed "deep sorrow and sadness" and ordered a full investigation. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah also strongly condemned the attack.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber killed ten people in a mosque in Balochistan province. The Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened more attacks against Shias.
So far, no one has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack against black-clad men and women marching in Jacobabad.
At more than 180 million (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous nation in the world, with the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia.
About 80 per cent of Pakistanis are Sunni Muslim, whilst Shias are almost 20 per cent. The country is also home to smaller religious minorities: Hindus (1.85 per cent), Christians (1.6 per cent) and Sikhs (0.04 per cent).