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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pakistan: 41 killed in suicide attacks

Three suicide blasts ripped through a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Punjab province Sunday (03-Apr-2011) evening, killing at least 41 people and injuring over 100, officials said.

The explosions struck near the Sakhi Sarwar shrine in Punjab, as Sufi Muslim devotees gathered for an annual three-day festival.

Sufis, a minority Muslim group who follow mystical beliefs, are regarded as heretical by hardliners.

Eyewitness Faisal Iqbal told Reuters News Agency that he had been standing yards away from one of the explosions.

"People started running outside the shrine. Women and children were crying and screaming. It was like hell," he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks. A Taliban fighter told reporters his group carried out the attack, the third on Sufi shrines in a year.

A police officer based in the provincial capital of Lahore said, "The most disturbing aspect of this attack is that it tells us once again that the Taliban and their al Qaeda patrons are alive and able to stage such major attacks."

The shrine which was struck is one of the many across Pakistan known to be a symbol of values spread by "sufi" saints across south Asia. Their teachings, which promoted conciliatory attitudes, stood in sharp contrast to a more rigid interpretation of Islam adopted by the Taliban and members of groups linked to al Qaeda.

Prime Minister Gilani said such cowardly acts of terror clearly demonstrate that the culprits involved neither have any faith nor any belief in human values. He vehemently condemned the bomb blasts.

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