South Asia

Quetta rally suicide bomb kills dozens

Media captionThe blast was followed by firing, reports suggest

A suicide bombing has killed at least 50 people in Quetta, south-western Pakistan, police say.

Nearly 80 others were injured in the explosion at the Shia Muslim rally in the Meezan Chowk area.

Pakistani Taliban militants said they had carried out the bombing.

It was the second attack on Pakistan's Shia Muslim minority this week - bombs in Lahore on Wednesday killed dozens in an attack also claimed by the Taliban.

The bombings come at a time when Pakistan is grappling with unprecedented floods that have displaced millions of people.

TV pictures showed chaotic street scenes in the aftermath of Friday's explosion. Survivors fired guns in the air, said police.

Reports said several Pakistani journalists were among those injured.

Shia leader Allama Abbas Kumaili appealed for calm, telling a Pakistani TV channel: "We understand these are attempts to bring Sunni and Shia sects against each other."

Organised by the Shia Imamia Students' Organisation, the rally was one of many that take place in Pakistan each year on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to support the Palestinian demand for a homeland.

Shia Muslims make up an estimated one in five of Pakistan's Sunni-dominated population of 160 million.

The attack comes two days after bomb attacks on a Shia procession in Lahore killed 31 people on Wednesday. At least two of the attacks were suicide bombings, police said.

The Pakistani Taliban said they had carried out the blasts in revenge for the killing of a Sunni leader last year.

Earlier on Friday, in another attack on religious minorities in north-west Pakistan, a suicide bomber killed one person outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect.

Members of the community have often been the victims of sectarian attacks.

While the Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim and follow all Islamic rituals, they were declared non-Muslim in Pakistan in 1973.

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