02/20/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Suicide attack on funeral of Pakistani Shiite leader

Fifteen dead and at least 70 wounded in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, in North-western frontier province. Following the attack those attending the funeral invaded the city’s streets, launching an assault on the police station, government offices and security forces. Shops closed and curfew imposed.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Fifteen people died and at least seventy were seriously wounded in a suicide attack on the funeral of a Shiite leader assassinated on February 19th last.  The aggression took place in Dera Ismail Khan city, North-western frontier province, the stage of frequent violence between the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority.

Early reports say the attack occurred at 10 am local time (5 am Italian time) close to Shobra hotel. The bomber detonated himself following the reading of prayers for the dead Imam, Sher Zaman, just as those attending the funeral, gave a gun salute, as is tradition at Muslim funerals in Pakistan.

After the explosion, participants at the funeral spilled onto the streets of the city in an angry rampage.  The local police station, government offices and the security force were targeted, cars, shops and private businesses assaulted.    

Shops and business closed in the wake of the panic and confusion of the attack.  In some areas of the city gun fights were reported.  Local police say they have regained control of the situation, but the climate remains tense and a curfew has been imposed.

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