Suicide bomber assassinates prominent Shia cleric in Karachi

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The Independent Online

A suicide attacker detonated a bomb near the home of a prominent Pakistani Shia Muslim cleric in Karachi yesterday, killing the cleric and two other people, police said.

The death of Allama Hassan Turabi is likely to raise tensions in Karachi, which is oftenthe scene of violence between Shias and Sunnis. Turabi had narrowly escaped an attempt on his life in April. He was the leader of a Shia party, Islamic Tehreek Pakistan, and a provincial chief for Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum, a hardline opposition religious coalition.

Manzoor Mughal, a police investigator, said a lone attacker on foot had detonated the bomb at the gate of Mr Turabi's house as he was getting into a car. Mr Turabi died of his injuries at a private hospital in Karachi, and his guard, a cousin, and the attacker, were also killed. It was initially reported that the attacker was in a car. Mr Mughal said police had collected body parts, including the head of the attacker. About 300 youths gathered near Mr Turabi's house after the blast, weeping and chanting slogans against the US and Israel.

In April, a roadside bomb went off near Mr Turabi's car in Karachi, wounding his two guards and a passer-by, in what appeared to be a sectarian attack. Pakistan has been blighted for years by attacks blamed on extremist elements among the Sunni and Shia sects, targeting places of worship and religious leaders.

About 80 per cent of Pakistan's 150 million people are Sunni; most of the rest are Shia. The vast majority live in peace.

Also in April, a suicide bombing at a Sunni gathering at a Karachi park killed 57 people, one of the worst attacks in recent years. It sparked three days of rioting by Sunnis. AP