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19 Aug, 2021 10:07

At least 3 killed, 50 injured as grenade thrown at religious procession in Punjab, Pakistan

At least 3 killed, 50 injured as grenade thrown at religious procession in Punjab, Pakistan

An explosion has rocked a Shia Muslim procession in Bahawalnagar, Pakistan, on one of Islam’s holiest days, killing three and injuring 50 according to reports with the attacker allegedly detained by police.

On Thursday, the procession in Bahawalnagar marking the Day of Ashura, a significant date in the Muslim calendar, was the target of a grenade attack. Media reports differ, although it is believed that at least three died in the attack and a further 50 were injured.

Videos shared on social media show a scene of devastation, with police and emergency service personnel rushing to secure the area and provide care.

Khawar Shafqat, a local Shia leader, told the Associated Press that the attack had taken place as the procession was passing through the city’s Muhajir Colony neighborhood.

Media reports suggest that the perpetrator was detained by police. A video shared online appears to show a topless man covered in blood and with his hands chained together in police custody.

Police in the city, which sits in the east of the Punjab province, confirmed the incident. Witnesses claim that tensions are boiling over in the city, with the Shia population protesting the attack and demanding retribution.

Authorities cut mobile phone services on Wednesday ahead of the Ashura festival, making communication a challenge. 

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Ashura is one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar as followers of Shia Islam commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Mohammad, at the Battle of Karbala.

Shia Muslims are a minority in Pakistan, where they are viewed with disdain by many hardliner Sunni extremists.

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