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Suicide bomb kills 13 at Pakistan shrine

A suicide attacker blew himself up outside a Sufi shrine in Pakistan’s restive southwest yesterday, killing 13 people and wounding at least 20 others, officials said, as Muslims attended annual celebrations of a local saint.

The incident comes after a bomb attack on the same shrine — located in the oil and gas rich Balochistan province, bordering Iran and Afghanistan — killed 35 people in 2005.

“A suicide bomber blew himself up after he was intercepted by police guards on duty outside the shrine, killing 13 people and wounding at least 20 others,” senior local administration official Asad Kakar said.

“The suicide bomber struck outside the shrine at a time when it was packed with people, attending anniversary celebrations of Syed Cheesal Shah,” Kakar said, referring to a local saint. The bomber came on foot, he added.

Members of Sunni and Shiite sects make daily visits to the shrine in Jhal Magsi district, with attendance climbing significantly during festivities.

Senior local police official Muhammad Iqbal also confirmed the death toll as fears mounted it could rise further.

Balochistan government spokesman Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said: “We have confirmed reports it was a suicide attack.”

There was no claim of responsibility but militants and separatists have targetted minority Shiite Muslims at religious sites, as well as security officials.

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