Blast rocks Pakistan market; at least 65 dead
QUETTA, Pakistan -- A bomb hidden in a water tank ripped through a crowded vegetable market in a mostly Shia neighborhood in a southwestern Pakistani city yesterday, killing at least 65 people and wounding nearly 200, officials said.
Police said many of those wounded in the explosion in Quetta remain in critical condition. The blast, which police said targeted the country's minority Shia Muslim sect, left many victims buried under rubble.
It was the deadliest incident since bombings targeting Shias in the same city killed 86 people on Jan. 10, leading to days of protests that eventually toppled the local government.
Shias have been increasingly attacked by militant groups who view them as heretics and non-Muslims in this Sunni Muslim dominated country.
Quetta police chief Zubair Mahmood said the bomb was hidden in a water tank and towed into the market by a tractor. He said the blast destroyed shops in the neighborhood and caused a two-story building to collapse.
"We fear some victims may be found buried there," he said.
Mahmood said police did not yet know who was behind the bombing but a local television station reported that Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group that has targeted Shias in the past, had called to claim responsibility.
Senior police officer Wazir Khan Nasir said the bomb, set off in a residential suburb, was detonated by remote control.
Another officer, Samiullah Khan, said the bomb was detonated while dozens of women and children were buying produce for their evening meal.
Members of the minority Shia sect took to the city's streets in angry protest, blocking roads with burning tires and throwing stones at passing vehicles.