KARACHI (AFP) -A bomb blast at a Shiite mosque in southern Pakistan Friday killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more, officials said, in the deadliest sectarian attack to hit the country in more than a year.
The bomb exploded as worshippers attended Friday prayers in the town of Shikarpur in Sindh province, around 470 kilometres north of Karachi.
Pakistan has been hit by a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, most of it by hardline Sunni Muslim groups targeting Shiite Muslims, who make up around one in five of the population.
Sindh provincial health minister Jam Mehtab said “at least 12 people have been killed and more than 40 injured”.
Shaukat Ali Memon, the medical superintendent of Civil Hospital in Shikarpur gave a death toll of 20, but there was no confirmation of the higher figure.
It is the bloodiest single sectarian attack in Pakistan since January 22 last year, when 24 Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran were killed when their bus was bombed in southwestern Baluchistan province.
Friday’s attack came as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, to discuss the law and order situation in the city.
Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and economic heartbeat has wrestled for several years with a bloody wave of criminal, sectarian and politician murders.