DERA ISMAIL KHAN - At least nine people including four children were killed and 30 others including a police cop injured in a bomb blast near an Imambargah here on Saturday.
The remote-controlled bomb packed with ball bearings exploded on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police said. The attack came as Shia Muslims marched to mourn Holy Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) grandson Imam Hussain (RA). Army has been called in to take control of the security in the city.
According to police, militants had planted a bomb in Bannu Chungi area near Imambargah in Dera Ismail Khan which exploded with a big bang.
The bomb was set off by a television remote controlled device because cellphones were not operational, police said.
The explosion was so powerful that it hurled a young boy onto a rooftop from a street, where a man later carried away half of his body, as a policeman with a bomb detector and residents stood near blood stains.
The bomb disposal squad said 8-10 kilograms of explosives were used in the locally made bomb, while police say the bomb was planted in a garbage dump. "It was high intensity blast, heard in entire city," said locals.
Police further added that a suspicious man was arrested from the site of the blast.
The police and law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area soon after the blast and the army was also called in for security.
"The death toll is now nine, four of them are children," local hospital chief Aziz Baluch told foreign news agency. "Four of the wounded were in critical condition, they have been shifted to the central city of Multan."
Akhtar Nawaz, another official at the state-run district headquarters hospital said three children were dead on arrival and the four other people died after being admitted.
City police chief Khalid Suhail said the dead children were aged between six and 11 years. "They were young boys," he said.
He said 30 people were wounded.
Meanwhile, the Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for the bomb in DI Khan. "We carried out the attack against the Shia community," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location after the explosion.
He said the Taliban had dispatched more than 20 suicide bombers across the country for attacks against the minority community.
"We have 20-25 fidayeen (suicide bombers) in the country to launch bomb blasts and suicide attacks," Ehsan said.
"The government can make whatever security arrangements it wants but it cannot stop our attacks." Muharram marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala, where the grandson of the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his family members were martyred.
Imam Hussain (RA) is equally revered by Sunnis but they oppose the public mourning of his martyrdom.
It followed a suicide attack that killed 23 people at a Shia procession in the garrison city of Rawalpindi Thursday, the country's deadliest bombing for five months. It was claimed by the Taliban.
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.
Dera Ismail Khan lies near semi-autonomous tribal belt, where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds.
Ashura has long been a magnet for sectarian attacks. In December 2009, a suicide bomber killed 43 people at an Ashura procession in Karachi.
Marchers recite elegies, beat their chests with open palms, and some flagellate their bare backs with knives.
Intelligence information indicates more attacks have been planned for the coming days in the capital Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta.