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32 killed in Pak suicide bombing

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
March 20, 2005 16:23 IST
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Thirty-two people were killed and over 100 injured in a suicide bomb blast on Saturday night at a shrine of a Shiite Muslim saint in Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province.

The army has been deployed in the gas-rich town of Sui in the troubled region to ward off attacks from nationalist rebels.

The blast occurred outside the shrine, built in memory of Pir Rakhel Shah who is revered as a saint, where food was being distributed to people, reports from Quetta said.

Thousands of people had come to the shrine, at Darbar Fateh Pur in Gandhawa town of district Jhal Magsi, 300 km from Baluchistan's capital Quetta, for the annual pilgrimage.

Media reports put the toll at 50.

Sayed Kamal Shah, a close relative of the custodian of the shrine, was quoted here as saying that he feared the death toll could go up to over 100 as dozens of people were injured.

Pakistan's local Geo TV, quoting officials from Quetta, reported that it was a suicide bomb attack.

Some reports said Baluchistan National Army, claiming to be fighting for the rights of the Baloch people, had claimed responsibility for the bombing. However, officials do not rule out the involvement of banned sectarian outfits.

Baluchistan, which has been in the grip of violence for the past several months, has witnessed sectarian strife involving banned extremists groups of Shias and Sunnis.

Reports also said another bomb blast took place near a camp of the paramilitary forces' Frontier Corps at Turbat Kechh district, resulting in disruption of power supplies.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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