Pakistan: Anti-Shiite violence kills 22 in Northwest


Onlookers gather at the site of a bomb explosion in Quetta on January 10, 2013. A bomb attack killed 11 people and wounded dozens more in a crowded part of Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta, police said.


Banaras KHAN

At least 22 people have died in Pakistan's northwestern region after a suicide bomb attack targeted Shiite Muslims worshipping at a mosque.

According to BBC News, the attack took place right after afternoon prayers on Friday in the town of Hangu. The town is known for bouts of sectarian violence against Shias.

No one has claimed responsibility for attack, although local officials say that suspicion falls squarely on either the Pakistani Taliban or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, two militant groups who have carried out attacks on Shiites in Pakistan before.

Speaking to the Associated Press, a local police chief said that 36 people were injured in the blast. Many nearby shops and a Sunni mosque in the vicinity were also affected by the bomb's radius.

Shiite Muslims in Pakistan have been increasingly targeted by radical Sunnis, also known as Deobandis, who believe that Shiites are not true Muslims. 2012 was the bloodiest year for Shiites in Pakistan, with 400 people killed in sectarian attacks.

Last month, 86 Shiite Hazaras were killed after two bombs ripped through the southwestern city of Quetta. The attacks prompted cries for protection from the government by Pakistan's minority Shiite population. Protests against anti-Shiite violence were held across the country.