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19 killed in attack on Shiites, says Pakistan official

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 30, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.

— A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing 19 people, a government official and eyewitnesses said.

Earlier Sunday, 21 tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban were found shot dead in Pakistan’s troubled northwest tribal region, government officials said.

Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. The violence has been especially pronounced in Baluchistan province, where the latest attack occurred.

In addition to the 19 people killed in the bombing in Baluchistan’s Mastung district, 25 others were wounded, many of them critically, said Tufail Ahmed, a local political official. The blast completely destroyed the bus that was hit and damaged a second bus carrying Shiites that was close by.

An eyewitness who was traveling in the second bus told Pakistan’s Geo TV that first bus contained over 40 pilgrims headed to neighboring Iran, a majority Shiite country that is a popular religious tourism destination.

A second eyewitness said the bomber rushed by in a pick-up truck, swerved in front of the first bus and slammed on the brakes. The bus slammed into the pick-up truck and then a big explosion occurred.

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