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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 09:34 GMT
Sunni suspects die in gun battle
Aftermath of Quetta bomb attack
Sectarian violence is a major concern in Pakistan
Two suspected militants have blown themselves up in the Pakistani city of Quetta after a gun battle with the police, officials say.

The police said the militants belonged to the outlawed Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

They were planning to attack a Shia mourning procession when the police raided their hideout, officials said.

Pakistan has a long history of sectarian violence between majority Sunni and minority Shia Muslims.

More than 4,000 people have died in Shia-Sunni clashes since 1980.

Heightened security

A senior police official said the unidentified militants were possibly planning attacks on local Shias.

"We think these two men were from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and they were planning attacks against Shiites," police official Mohammed Shahban told the Associated Press news agency.

PAKISTAN'S SECTARIAN DIVIDE
Shias revere Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed
Pakistan is 20% Shia, 70% Sunni
Violence between Sunni and Shia factions began in early 1980s
More than 150 people have died in the past year alone
About 4,000 people have been killed in total
Most violence takes place in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab

The BBC's Azizullah Khan in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, says the authorities have recently beefed up security.

Our correspondent says evidence of that is especially clear in Quetta, where police have announced that security cameras would be installed and searches carried out on people entering the sensitive areas during peak days of the Shia Muharam festival.

Shias make up 20% of Pakistan's predominantly Muslim population.


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