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Bombings kill 115 in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan -- A series of bombings killed 115 people in Pakistan yesterday, including 81 who died in a sectarian attack on a billiard hall in the southwest city of Quetta, officials said.

The blasts punctuated one of the deadliest days in recent years in Pakistan, where the government faces a bloody insurgency by Taliban militants in the northwest and Baluch militants in the southwest.

The billiard hall in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, was hit by twin blasts about 5 minutes apart last night. The hall was in an area dominated by Shia Muslims, a religious minority, and most of the 81 dead and more than 120 wounded were of the sect, police said.

Many of the people who rushed to the scene after the first blast, including police officers, rescue workers and journalists, were hit by the second bomb, which caused the roof to collapse, police said.

The sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesmen, Bakar Saddiq, said the first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber and the second was a bomb planted in a car and detonated remotely.

Radical Sunni groups often target the Shia minority, who they believe hold heretical views and are not true Muslims.

Earlier in the day, a bomb targeting paramilitary soldiers in a commercial area in Quetta killed 12 people and wounded 40 others, police said. The United Baluch Army, a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, a bomb in a crowded Sunni mosque in the northwest city of Mingora killed 22 people and wounded more than 70, police said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

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