Bomb at Shi'ite mosque kills 45 in Pakistan

KARACHI Sun Mar 3, 2013 2:13pm EST

1 of 6. Residents stand in front of a damaged building after a bomb blast in a residential area in Karachi March 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

Related Topics

KARACHI (Reuters) - A suspected suicide bomber attacked Shi'ite Muslims as they were leaving a mosque in Pakistan's commercial capital on Sunday, 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-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.


The bloodshed has prompted human rights group to accuse the Pakistani government, which receives billions of dollars in American aid, of turning a blind eye to the bombings.

While the military have launched major offensives against Taliban fighters they have not taken similar action against Sunni sectarian groups.

In 2012, sectarian attacks and clashes climbed by 47 percent to 208, according to the Pak Institute For Peace Studies, a prominent Pakistani think tank.

While the Quetta carnage grabbed world attention, a Reuters inquiry into a lesser known spate of murders in Karachi suggests the violence is taking on a volatile new dimension as a small number of Shi'ites fight back.

Pakistan's Western allies have traditionally been fixated on the challenge posed to the nuclear-armed state by Taliban militants battling the army in the highlands on the Afghan frontier.

But a cycle of tit-for-tat killings on the streets of Karachi points to a new type of threat: a campaign by LeJ and allied Pakistani anti-Shi'ite groups to rip open sectarian fault-lines in the city of 18 million people.

Pakistani intelligence agents say the LeJ has become a major security threat in Pakistan, which is also struggling with a fragile economy, dilapidated infrastructure and widespread poverty.

Shi'ites make up to 20 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people so they are a big target.

"I heard an ear-splitting explosion and reached the spot and saw blood, burned and dead bodies. Fire and smoke everywhere. I felt like I was standing in Beirut," said Nasir Ali, referring to the Lebanese capital, which was gripped by a civil war.

Shi'ite frustrations are rising with each blast. Shi'ites fired weapons in the air on Sunday night in Karachi, a bustling metropolis plagued by ethnic and political violence and crime.

"The explosion was so massive it jolted the entire area," said witness Ali Reza. "Two flats and nearby shops caught fire after the explosion and balconies of various buildings collapsed."

Another witness, Muhammad Kazim, said women and children who were shopping nearby were wounded.

(Additional reporting by Matthew Green; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Stephen Powell)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (6)
Because their beliefs are different. That’s militant Islamists for you. The worst people on Earth.

Mar 03, 2013 2:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“…Sunni groups, most prominently the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), have escalated attacks against Shi’ites, who they believe are non-Muslims.”

These are all fanatical people trapped in the mindset of the Middle Ages in which violence and death are the only thing they know and which they see as the best and only solution to all problems.

Imagine if Catholics and Protestants began bombing one another’s Churches in the USA. We would all stare in astonishment as if they had lost their minds.

But in many parts of the world all this violence and insanity is just accepted and seen as par for the course and a normal part of the fabric of daily life. A type of fabric that goes back a thousand years.

And the pity and tragedy of it all is that while millions of Americans have lost their homes and means of livelihood, many having been literally thrown into the street, surviving on handouts from local soup kitchens and “the kindness of strangers”, billions of our tax dollars flow out to every corner of the world to try to keep insane people from tearing each other’s throats out.

Syria, Iraq, the list goes on and on. A feeding frenzy of bombing after bombing most of which are perpetrated by suicide bombers, who all reflect and represent, the final proof and embodiment of individualized, clinical insanity.

And then we even have to witness the further horrendous bombings of funeral processions of mourners burying the dead of a previous day’s suicide bomber’s bloody work.

Meanwhile those in the trillion dollar worldwide arms and explosives industries, who profit from all such destruction and mayhem, rake in a never ending stream of blood red riches, the ghastly fruit of their endless production lines of death.

What a work is Man !

Mar 03, 2013 3:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
stup wrote:
its the americans that are hell bent on the divide between shia and sunni in the country … these groups have been there and are military contractors … they dont act independently … the american contractors that are running around in my country doing all this should be kicked out by our people … get out and stay out of our lands … stop dividing us and killing us …

Mar 03, 2013 6:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.