Bombers strike, then target hospital

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Two bombs targeting Shia Muslims exploded in Pakistan's largest city yesterday, one outside a hospital treating victims from the first blast hours earlier. At least 25 people were killed and around 100 others wounded.

Police appealed for calm following the strikes in the chaotic city of 16 million people. Karachi has a history of religious violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and has been tense in recent weeks because of deadly clashes between rival political parties. In late December, a bomb in the southern port city killed 44 pilgrims attending a procession to mark Ashura, the anniversary of the death of revered Shia figure Imam Hussein, sparking deadly riots.

Yesterday's blasts coincided with Arbaeen, the final day of the annual 40-day mourning period for Hussein.

One of Pakistan's many Sunni extremist groups linked to al-Qa'ida will be suspected in the twin attacks.

The first blast targeted a bus carrying worshippers, most of them women and children, killing 12 and wounding 49, officials said. The bomb was attached to a motorcycle and detonated as the bus drove to an Arbaeen procession, witnesses said. The second bomb exploded outside the entrance to the emergency ward at Jinnah Hospital, packed with victims and relatives of those caught in the earlier attack.

"A woman was calling me at the emergency ward, when the blast went off outside and then it was all darkness," said Seemi Jamali, a senior doctor, as he recalled the explosion. "There was absolute chaos and people ran out of the hospital from whichever door they could."