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Twin blasts kill 42 in Lahore
PESHAWAR, Jul 2 (Agencies):
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Published on 2 Jul. 2010 11:10 PM IST
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At least 42 people were killed and 175 injured in a twin suicide bombing attacks on a Sufi shrine in Lahore, Pakistan on Friday.
The timing of the attack coincided with evening prayers, when thousands of worshippers were in the building.
Although no one has yet claimed responsibility, it is widely believed that the attack can be read as a sign of disapproval. Extremist Islamists generally frown upon the more tolerant, moderate form of their religion known as Sufism.
This is the second attack on a religious building this year. The first occurred in May against the Ahmadi sect, also in Punjab province, the country’s most populous region.
Raza Ahmed Rumi, a Pakistani expert on Sufism, wrote on his website that the shrine “represents a millennia of tolerant Sufi Islam which is directly under attack by the puritans.”
Two of the five suicide bombers’ heads have been recovered for identification.
Sufism, the mystical strand of Islam, is a largely non-violent, apolitical religious creed that places an individual’s relationship with God above the demands of any single doctrine. It is credited with producing some of Islam’s greatest works of art, in poetry, literature, and music as well as some of Islam’s leading contributions to science and philosophy.
It is also hated by fundamentalists like the Taliban and al-Qaida. The attack on the shrine of the Sufi saint Syed Ali bin Usman Hajweri came as pilgrims were gathering for a traditional Thursday night prayer. One suicide bomber reportedly struck devotees as they were performing the washing all Muslims perform before prayer, while the second struck a crowd gathered in one of the shrine’s courtyards.
The dead and wounded were rushed to hospitals amid a scene of chaos and carnage. Some are reported to have died during a stampede that immediately followed the blasts, others succumbed to their injuries at hospital, according to doctors there who also warned that the death toll is likely to rise.
Bombers caught on dramatic TV footage
The scenes of carnage at one of Pakistan’s holiest shrines was caught on camera by closed circuit televisions which recorded the bombers in the final moments before they blew themselves up.
The dramatic footage shows a security guard at the Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore chasing after one of the bombers shortly before a huge blast which sent crowds of panicked worshippers fleeing in all directions.
The images broadcast by local television channels were obtained from close circuit television cameras installed at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine where the twin suicide attack late Thursday left 42 worshippers dead.
They showed hundreds of white-robed followers of Sufi saint Hazrat Syed Ali bin Usman Hajweri crowding into the centuries-old mausoleum before the blast.
A guard identified as Salim Raza, who was posted at an entry gate equipped with a scanner, detected a suspicious man clad in a green turban, white robes and a shawl and carrying a bag.
He ran after the bomber who seconds later detonated his explosives, engulfing the site in a huge cloud of white smoke and leaving the white marble floor splattered with blood, body parts and people’s belongings.
Pakistani authorities said they had found the heads of the two suicide bombers and were investigating how they managed to penetrate into the area despite strict security measures.
“We were searching everyone walking through the gate,” Rao Fazal-ur Rehman, an administrator at the shrine, told AFP.
“One bomber crossed the gate and a security guard ran to catch him because he looked suspicious but in the meantime he blew himself up,” Rehman said.

 
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