Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Thousands mourn Karachi bomb dead

Mourners in Karachi, 6 Feb 2010
Security was tight in Karachi as mourners gathered for victims' funerals

Thousands of mourners have attended funerals for those killed in a double bomb attack targeting Shia Muslims in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

The death toll from Friday's bombings rose overnight to 33, with 165 injured.

A police official told AFP news agency more then 10,000 people had attended a funeral for 14 Muslim victims. Five Christians are to be buried later.

The attacks - the second at a hospital where victims of the first attack were being treated - targeted Shia pilgrims.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appealed for calm amid fears of growing tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Security was tightened in Karachi as the mourners gathered.

Mourners in Karachi, 6 Feb 2010

Pakistani TV channels broadcast images from the sports field where the bodies of 14 victims were taken, showing many people dressed in black, beating their chests and chanting religious slogans.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Karachi has a long history of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia communities.

The first of Friday's blasts was caused by a motorbike laden with explosives targeting a bus carrying Shias to a religious procession.

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

Sectarian tension

The bombings happened in spite of tight security across Pakistan as Shias marked the end of the Arbaeen religious festival, with Friday the final and most important day of 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

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

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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