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Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Pakistan funeral bomb 'kills 25'

Injured people in Dera Ismail Khan
The aftermath of the attack was a scene of carnage, witnesses say

At least 25 people have died in a bomb explosion at a funeral procession in north-western Pakistan, police say.

The suicide blast targeted the funeral of a Shia Muslim cleric who was gunned down on Thursday. There are fears Friday's death toll could go higher.

The blast took place in Dera Ismail Khan, a town close to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal area.

The town has a history of sectarian violence between its Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.

Rioting

A curfew has been imposed in the town, 270km (170 miles) south-west of the capital, Islamabad.

Map Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan

At least 60 people have been injured in the attack.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says Shia mourners were making their way to a graveyard early on Friday morning when the bomber struck.

The funeral was of a prominent local Shia leader, Sher Zaman, who was shot dead in a busy market on Thursday by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike.

Blast witness Gulzar Hussain told Agence France-Presse a man rushed into the centre of the funeral procession and there was a deafening explosion.

"All I could see after the blast were body parts lying in a pool of blood. Everyone around me was injured, crying and moaning. I saw injured children crying with pain. It was a scene from a slaughterhouse."

Our correspondent says that with police resources stretched, the administration called in the army to deal with rioting by incensed locals.

Dera Ismail Khan has been the scene of a number of deadly attacks targeted at the local Shia population since 2007.

Our correspondent says security officials believe Pakistan's most dangerous militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is behind them.

They believe the organisation has been bolstered by help from the Taleban.

Two weeks ago 35 people died in a suspected suicide bomb attack against Shia worshippers in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province.

Shia Muslims make up about 20% of Pakistan's 160m population.

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