Blast at Pakistan procession kills at least 16: officials

Thursday November 22 2012



A blast during a religious procession on Wednesday left at least 16 people dead and several others injured in the city of Rawalpindi in an attack by a suicide bomber, police and rescue officials said.

It was the third attack in Pakistan on Wednesday when at least 28 people were killed in bomb blasts and ambushes across the country -- a day before it hosts world leaders in the Developing 8 (D8) summit.

The blast occurred when a procession by minority Shiite Muslims was marching towards a mosque in the downtown area of Rawalpindi, which neighbours the capital Islamabad, said police.

"The total number of dead people has now reached 16. Some 32, including nine children, have got injured," Waqas Rehman, a spokesman for the Rescue 1122 service, told AFP.

Rawalpindi police chief said that the blast occurred when a suicide bomber entered the procession and the security officials were checking him.

"The suicide bomber blew himself up when the security officials were checking (his body). We had prior information about the attacks and were fully alert," said Azhar Hameed Khokhar.

Khokhar said that the authorities will run a DNA test of the body parts of the bomber to determine his links.

Another police official, Muhammad Haroon, told AFP that the attack took place when the procession was almost 500 metres from the mosque where it was heading.

Thursday's D8 summit, designed to boost trade and investment, will bring together leaders from Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Pakistan rarely hosts major international gatherings because of troubles with violence and its reputation as a hub for Islamist extremism in the northwest.