Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

Toll rises in Pakistan-administered Kashmir blast

Scene of blast in Muzaffarabad
Scores were injured in the attack

The death toll in the suicide bomb attack on a Shia Muslim gathering in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has risen to eight, officials say.

Six people, including three policemen, were killed on the spot while two more died in hospital, police said.

The attack injured more than 80 people. Ten of them are in a serious condition.

The blast in Muzaffarabad came as Shia Muslims commemorated the festival of Ashura that mourns the 7th-Century death of Imam Hussein.

Atif Bashir, who runs a medical store close to the prayer hall where the attack took place, told BBC Urdu's Zulfiqar Ali that the blast took place when the mourning procession had entered the hall.

"Soon afterwards, the lights went out, and people were crying for help in the dark."

Correspondents say that Muzaffarabad has long been home to camps of Sunni militant groups fighting the Indian army in Indian-administered Kashmir.

But this is the first time an attack has been launched against civilians in the area.

Pakistan's security forces have been on high alert fearing sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

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