Friday, October 01, 2004

Bombing at Zainabia mosque

Suicide attack at a Pakistani mosque:

A suicide attacker detonated a huge bomb inside a crowded Shiite Muslim mosque in an eastern Pakistani city during Friday prayers, killing at least 16 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

Police said that hundreds of people were inside the Zainabia mosque in the city of Sialkot at the time of the blast, which severely damaged walls and left body parts scattered inside.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes less than a week after Pakistan killed a top al-Qaida suspect in a shootout in southern Pakistan -- leading the government to claim it had broken the back of the terror network in the country.

Witnesses reported that a man with a briefcase entered the mosque shortly before the blast and the briefcase had exploded, Sialkot police chief Nisar Ahmed said.

``We are almost certain it was a suicide attack,'' he told The Associated Press. He said bomb disposal experts were examining remains of the briefcase, and their initial assessment was that it contained explosives.

He said that at least 16 people were killed. ``Dozens of people have been taken to hospital in critical condition, and I think the casualties and death toll will rise,'' he said.

A security official in Islamabad, who requested anonymity, reported 19 deaths and nearly 50 injured.