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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 15:26 GMT
Violence erupts at Pakistan funeral
A KFC restaurant in Karachi after being hit by rocks
Rocks were hurled at shops and businesses
Mourners have attacked businesses in the Pakistani port city of Karachi during a funeral for victims of Saturday's mosque massacre.

Banks, shops and petrol stations were stoned as emotions boiled over among those grieving for nine members of the minority Shia Muslim community who were gunned down.

No group has claimed the killings but extremists from the majority Sunni Muslim faith are suspected.

Several other people were injured when at least three gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at the entrance of the Imam Bargha as worshippers were arriving for evening prayers.

Thousands of people gathered at a sports arena in the southern port city of Karachi for a prayer session for two of those killed in Saturday's massacre, who were later buried in the Shia cemetery.

The remains of the seven other victims were being returned to their rural hometowns for funerals.

Retribution pledge

In Karachi, many lingered at the site of the attack, where bullet holes and bloodstains remained clearly visible on the gates.

There was a lot of anger and anguish among the mourners
Tariq Jameel,
Karachi police chief
Mourners shouted "Arrest the killers!" and warned those responsible: "We will take out our rage on you!"

Some members of the crowd then hurled stones at shops and businesses, including two American KFC fast-food restaurants.

Several banks were ransacked and tyres were set on fire.

No injuries were reported.

Karachi police chief Tariq Jameel told Reuters news agency: "There is no apparent reason to attack the KFCs or any other places.

"But there was a lot of anger and anguish among the mourners. The situation is now under control."

Sectarian trouble

Violence between opposing militants from the majority Sunni and minority Shia communities has claimed hundred of lives in Pakistan in recent years.

Most of the deaths have been blamed on a Sunni Muslim extremist group, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which has been banned by the government.

A Pakistan soldier by a burning tyre in Karachi
Karachi has been the scene of numerous sectarian attacks
A breakaway faction of the SSP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, is also blamed for attacks on Shia Muslims and several of its members have been arrested recently.

But provincial police chief Syed Kamal Shah said it would be premature to blame any one group.

"It could be a sectarian motivated killing or there could be a foreign hand in this act of terrorism," he said, apparently referring to Indian spies who are often blamed for violence.

Karachi has been the scene of numerous attacks in recent months, many against Westerners and minority Christians.

A bomb planted outside the US consulate in Karachi last June killed 12 people and injured 50.

And, in May, a suicide bomb in the city killed 11 French engineers and three other people, including the bomber.





LINKS TO MORE SOUTH ASIA STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
Pakistani Shias gunned down
23 Feb 03 |  South Asia
Pakistan's Shia-Sunni divide
19 Mar 02 |  South Asia



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