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Bomb kills 7 at Pakistan Shiite procession

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A bomb blast claimed by the Taliban killed seven people near a Shiite procession in northwest Pakistan Saturday, despite heightened security across the country.

Four boys were among the dead and 30 other people were injured when the remote-controlled bomb packed with ball bearings exploded on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.

The attack on Shiites, a minority in Sunni-dominated Pakistan, came as they marched to mourn Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain during the holy month of Muharram which culminates Sunday in Ashura, the group's holiest day of the year.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

“We carried out the attack against the Shiite community,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location. “The government can make whatever security arrangements it wants but it cannot stop our attacks.”

The Taliban had dispatched more than 20 suicide bombers across the country for attacks on the minority community, he said.

The blast followed another suicide attack — also claimed by the Pakistani Taliban — that killed 23 people at a Shiite procession in the garrison city of Rawalpindi Thursday, the country's deadliest bombing for five months.

Authorities subsequently ordered heightened security, with services for mobile phones — which are often used to trigger bombs — suspended in major cities.

But that did not prevent Saturday's attack. Police said a 10-kilogram (22-pound) bomb was hidden in a dustbin on the procession route and its powerful blast could be heard several kilometers away.

“The death toll is now seven, four of them are children,” local hospital chief Aziz Baluch told AFP. “Four of the wounded were in critical condition. They have been shifted to the central city of Multan.”

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Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout anti-U.S. and Israel slogans during a religious procession on the ninth day of holy month of Moharram in Karachi on Saturday, Nov. 24. The Pakistani Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for a bomb blast near a Shiite Muslim procession in northwest Pakistan that killed seven people. (AP)

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