Blast at Shi'ite Procession Kills 15 in Karachi

Monday in the Pakistani city of Karachi a bomb attack targeting a Shiite Muslim procession killed 15 people and wounded around 20, officials said.

"Fifteen people have been killed and around 20 were injured," Karachi city police chief Waseem Ahmad told private TV channel Express.

Saghir Ahmad, health minister in the government of southern province Sindh, also confirmed that 15 people were killed, but said more than 60 were wounded, AFP reports.

It was also reported, television pictures showed a big cloud of smoke over the scene and reporters said angry worshippers attacked journalists.

Provincial interior secretary, Arif Ali Khan, told Reuters: "It was a suicide attack and took place at one of the camps set up along the roadside to help the mourners."

Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed said 15 people had been killed. The severed head of the suicide bomber had been found, he said. He appealed for calm.

Ashura falls on the 10th day of a 40-day mourning period during the Islamic calendar's first month, Moharram, which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in battle in A.D. 680 in the Iraqi city of Kerbala, The Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool says an incident like this had been feared by the authorities. Stringent security measures had been put in place across the country over the last month.

These processions have been occurring in cities around Pakistan as Muslims mark the holy month of Moharram or Ashura - and there have been numerous attacks on them over the last few days, our correspondent says.

Today was the climax of the holy period, which commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in bomb attacks in recent months as Pakistan's army pursues an offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan and surrounding areas.

Pakistan also has a long history of violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, BBC reports.

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