ISLAMABAD, Jan 15 (IANS): At least 18 people were killed and more than 30 injured in a bomb blast Sunday at a religious gathering of Shia Muslims in Pakistan's Punjab
province. An official confirmed it was a bomb, rejecting an earlier report that said it was a transformer explosion.
The bomb was detonated by a remote controlled device around 1.45 p.m. when a group of around 150 Shias had almost reached a shrine in Khanpur city of Rahim Yar Khan
district, Xinhua reported citing Urdu TV channel ARY.
The Shia mourners were commemorating the end of 40 days of mourning for Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammad's grandson, who was killed in the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.
Though police earlier told Dawn News that the blast may have been caused as a result of an electrical explosion in a transformer, a spokesman of the Water and Power
Development Authority (WPDA) in Khanpur told ARY that it was indeed a bomb.
Spokesman Mushtaq Kichhi said the explosive was fixed to an electric pole and it went off when the procession of Shia Muslims passed by it.
Abid Qadri, a senior police officer in Rahim Yar Khan, had told Dawn News: "It was not an act of terrorism. A long flag in the procession struck the high transmission
power wire and caused the explosion in the transformer."
The injured were admitted to hospitals in Rahim Yar Khan, where hospital sources said the toll may rise as several of the injured were in critical condition.
After the blast, the Shia Muslims threw stones at a police station and chanted slogans against government officials, the ARY report said.