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35 die in bomb blasts at Pakistan shrine

Family members of victims comfort each others after

Family members of victims comfort each others after suicide bombers attacked a popular Muslim shrine in the Pakistan city of Lahore late Thursday night. (July 1, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

LAHORE, Pakistan - Two suicide bombers struck a popular Muslim shrine late Thursday night, killing 35 people and wounding 175 others in the second major attack in Lahore in a month, the city's top official said.

The bombers struck as thousands of people were visiting the Data Darbar shrine, where a famous Sufi saint is buried. Muslims in Pakistan visit shrines and mosques in large numbers on Thursday and Friday nights.

Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, has been hit by a growing number of attacks as Taliban fighters along the northwest border with Afghanistan team up with militant groups in the country's heartland once supported by the government.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Islamist extremists consider Sufis to be heretics and have often targeted them, as well as Shias and other minority groups.

The first bomber detonated his explosives in a large underground room where visitors sleep and wash themselves before praying, said Khusro Pervez, the top government official in Lahore.

The attack occurred as volunteers were handing out food to people visiting the shrine, said Chaudary Mohammed Shafique, a senior police official.

Minutes later, the second bomber detonated his explosives upstairs in a large courtyard in front of the shrine as people tried to flee the first attack, said Pervez.

The blasts ripped concrete from the walls, twisted metal gates and left wires hanging from the ceiling, television footage showed.

Police initially said they were investigating the source of a third blast but concluded that there were only two suicide bombers, whose heads were found later, Pervez said.

At least 25 of those wounded in the attacks are in critical condition, he said.

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