Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Pakistan double bombing kills Shia Muslims


Footage shows the moment when the second blast occurred

Two bombs in the Pakistani city of Karachi have killed at least 25 people and injured more than 50.

In the first blast, a motorbike laden with explosives hit a bus carrying Shia Muslims to a religious procession and exploded, killing 12 people.

An hour later, another bomb exploded outside the entrance to the emergency ward of the hospital where the victims of the first attack were being treated.

At least 13 people were killed in the second attack.

The bombings happened in spite of tight security across Pakistan.

Syed Shoaib Hasan
Syed Shoaib Hasan, BBC News
This is the first time such a double attack has hit Karachi. Although no-one has yet accepted responsibility, the Taliban have often used such tactics in the North West Frontier Province.

The attack is likely to fuel more violence in what is already a volatile metropolis. Karachi is already reeling from weeks of unrest due to targeted political killings.

These started after political tensions boiled over following a similar attack on a Shia procession in December, which killed more than 40 people.

Forty days ago, during the last major Shia festival, a suicide bomber killed 25 worshippers in the city.

Shia Muslims are marking the end of the Arbaeen religious festival, with Friday being the final and most important day of 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

Also on Friday, at least 40 Shia Muslims were killed in the Iraqi city of Karbala as they took part in a major Arbaeen event.

Approximately a million Shia Muslim pilgrims are in Karbala to visit the Imam Hussein shrine at the end of commemorations.

Sectarian tension

Karachi police now think both bombs were remotely detonated. The first blast took place on a commercial street near the main Sharah-e-Faisal road connecting Karachi airport with the city.

The bus that was attacked was one of dozens used to transport Shia pilgrims from all over the city to a central procession.

An injured person is helped after the Karachi blast, 5 February, 2010

The attack injured about 50 people, who were taken to Jinnah hospital.

About an hour later there was a large blast just outside the emergency ward of the hospital.

The BBC's Jaffer Rizvi, who was at the scene at the time, said there was a huge panic inside the hospital. Hundreds of people mourning those killed in the first attack had gathered there and were shouting slogans condemning both militants and the government.

Police officer Ghulam Nabi also told Reuters news agency another bomb had been defused after being discovered inside a TV set on the hospital premises.

The Shia community in Karachi has declared that Saturday will be a day of mourning.

Sectarian tension between the Shia minority and the Sunni majority rose after the December attack, and riots erupted.

Tension remains high, and paramilitary troops were deployed in the city days ago amid deadly clashes between rival political groups.

The Shia-Sunni schism originates from a dispute soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad over who should lead the Muslims.

Sunnis remain the majority globally, with Shias estimated to number about 10% of all Muslims.

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