PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A motorcycle packed with explosives blew up outside a mosque frequented by both Sunni and Shi‘ite worshippers in Pakistan’s volatile northwest on Thursday, as the month-old government struggled to curb a rising tide of attacks.
Just hours later, another explosion ripped through a major border crossing lying on a NATO supply route between Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing two people, a security official said.
Taliban-linked insurgents are a main source of instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, but sectarian violence by Sunni militants, who see Shi‘ites as heretics, is another 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 mosque attack. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, seen as the most ruthless Sunni sectarian group, has targeted Shi‘ite sites in the past.
At the Afghan border crossing, the explosion took place when a man carrying a refrigerator on a push cart approached the gate from the Afghan side, the official said. Half a dozen people including security personnel were wounded.
The Chaman crossing, located in one of the most lawless and violent areas between the two countries, is where NATO supplies landing in the port of Karachi cross into Afghanistan before reaching international troops deployed in Kandahar.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad and Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Alistair Lyon