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Suicide car bomber strikes after morning prayers, kills 10 in southwest Pakistan
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) ' A suicide car bomber attacked Shiite Muslims in southwestern Pakistan on Wednesday as they were heading home after morning prayers at the start of an Islamic holiday. The blast killed 10 people, officials said.
The attack occurred in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Baluchistan is believed to be home to many Taliban militants who have targeted Shiites in the past. Extremist Sunni Muslim groups like the Taliban view Shiites as heretics.
The bomber was apparently targeting a Shiite mosque but could not get close enough because the road was blocked, said Quetta police chief Ahsan Mahboob.
Instead, he detonated his explosives in a parking lot nearby, Mahboob said.
It is unclear how many of the 10 people killed were Shiite worshippers or others who were hit by the blast as they were passing by, said Mahboob. The blast also wounded at least 17 people and damaged nearby vehicles and buildings, he said.
The attack was a somber beginning to Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. In Pakistan, the three-day holiday started Wednesday while in many other parts of the Muslim world it began on Tuesday.
Many analysts believe Baluchistan is home to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and fighters have used the province as a convenient gateway to attack foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government has also fought a decades-long insurgency in Baluchistan waged by nationalists who demand a greater share of the province's natural resources.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report from Islamabad.