Bomb hits Shi'ite mosque in Pakistan as attacks spread

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, July 11 Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:05am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, July 11 (Reuters) - A motorcycle packed with explosives went off outside a mosque frequented by both Sunni and Shi'ite worshippers in Pakistan's volatile northwest on Thursday, as the government struggled to curb a rising tide of attacks since taking power a month ago.

Taliban-linked insurgents remain the main source of instability in the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people, but sectarian violence by Sunni militants, who see Shi'ites as heretics, has emerged as a new security threat.

Two people were killed and dozens were wounded when the motorcycle exploded as people poured out of the mosque in the district of Kohat on Pakistan's first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, police said.

"Followers of both Sunni and Shi'ite sects pray in the mosque," said police official Gul Ameen Shah.

Pakistan's new government has been under intense pressure to tackle the violence. On Wednesday, the president's security chief was killed in a suicide bomb in the port city of Karachi.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attack. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, seen as the most ruthless Sunni sectarian group, has targeted Shi'te sites in the past. (Reporting by Jibran Ahmad and Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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