May 25, 2013
Bomb at Shi'ite mosque kills 45 in Pakistan
A suspected suicide bomber attacked Shi'ite Muslims as they were leaving a mosque in Pakistan's commercial capital, killing at least 45 people, in another signal Sunni militants are escalating sectarian attacks.
"It's like doomsday to me. I was watching television when I heard an explosion and my flat was badly shaken," said Mariam Bibi.
"I saw people burning to death and crying with pain. I saw children lying in pools of their own blood and women running around shouting for their children and loved ones."
Senior city official Hashim Raza said at least 45 people had been killed and 149 wounded in the blast in Pakistan's biggest city.
Military offensives and US drone strikes against the Taliban in Pakistan have reduced the number of suicide attacks on government and military targets over the past year.
But Sunni groups, most prominently the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), have escalated attacks against Shi'ites, who they believe are non-Muslims.
With a few hundred hard-core cadres, the LeJ aims to trigger sectarian violence that would pave the way for a Sunni theocracy in US-allied Pakistan, say Pakistan intelligence officials.
Its immediate goal, they say, is to stoke the intense Sunni-Shi'ite violence that has pushed countries like Iraq close to civil war.
Bombings targeting Shi'ites have killed nearly 200 people in Quetta alone since the start of the year, and residents of the city say they are under siege by LeJ death squads who seem to act with impunity.