PESHAWAR, Pakistan A suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers, killing 22 people and wounding more than 30 in the latest apparent sectarian attack in the country, police said.
Shiite Muslims in Pakistan have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and 2012 was the bloodiest year for the minority sect in the country’s history.
The attack on the mosque occurred in the town of Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which has experienced previous clashes between the Sunni and Shiite communities that live there.
The bomber staged his attack at one of the mosque’s exits leading to a bazaar, said Hangu police chief Mian Mohammad Saeed.
The blast damaged several small shops and peppered a wall with shrapnel, leaving scores of pockmarks, according to local TV footage. Ambulances rushed in to pick up the dead and wounded, as police tried to keep back onlookers in the crowded bazaar.
The explosion killed 22 and wounded over 30 people, said another police officer, Naeem Khan. One policeman who was guarding the mosque was killed and another was injured. Most of the dead and wounded were Shiites, but some of the casualties were also from the country’s majority sect since there is a Sunni mosque nearby, said Khan.