Two separate bomb explosions in Pakistan have killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens of others in Lahore and Karachi. Pakistani officials say both explosions are suspected suicide attacks.
Pakistani authorities say the first attack occurred in the eastern city of Lahore where a suicide bomber blew himself up near a religious procession of minority Shi’ite Muslims.
A top official of the city’s administration, Ahad Khan Cheema, said security arrangements limited the damage because police intercepted the teenage attacker at the first security cordon.
“The policemen stopped the suicide bomber first and then he blew himself up,” noted Cheema. “And we have found the head of the suicide bomber.”
Several policemen are among the dead while doctors at one of the city’s main hospitals say more than 15 people among dozens of wounded are in critical condition. The powerful blast has also wounded women and children.
The second attack took place in the country’s largest city of Karachi. Police say that a bomb exploded near a group of Shi’ite mourners returning from a procession in the Malir district.
The religious processions Shiite Muslims staged mark the end of the 40-day mourning period for a grandson (Immam Hussain) of the Prophet Mohammad. Sunni Muslim extremists linked to al-Qaida and Taliban militants have in the past claimed responsibility for such attacks.
The militants have also targeted Pakistani security forces and other civilian targets in recent years, killing thousands of people across the country. Authorities believe the violence is meant to discourage anti-militancy efforts and to destabilize Pakistan.