KARACHI: A suicide bomber injured four policemen, one critically, outside a Shiite mosque in southern Pakistan in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban as the country marked the beginning of the religious festival Eid al-Adha on Tuesday.
The incident occurred in Shikarpur in Sindh province, around 470 kilometers (300 miles) north of Karachi and the same district where at least 61 were killed in a suicide attack on another Shiite mosque in 2015.
Officials said two suicide bombers tried to enter the Khanpur Imambargah but were intercepted by police.
“Four of our men are injured of whom one is critical,” Umar Tufail, a senior local police officer told AFP.
Tufail added doctors were also trying to save the life of the other suspected bomber, who was injured when the first one blew himself up but failed to detonate himself.
“The attackers came as the worshipers were gathering to offer Eid prayers. Police were able to stop him at the gate outside the mosque,” A.D. Khawaja, chief of police for Sindh province said.
Worshipers overpowered the second would-be suicide bomber as the police were reeling from their injuries, he added.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to media.
Spokesman for the group Ehsan Ullah Ehsan said it was a part of an operation which would be spread to every area of the country.
Pakistan has been hit by frequent sectarian violence in recent years, most of it perpetrated by hardline Sunni Muslim groups against minority Shiite Muslims, who make up around one in five of the population.
The January 2015 attack on the Shiites in Shikarpur, blamed on the Sunni militant Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, led to a wave of nationwide protests.
In another incident Tuesday, two policemen died and four were injured when their van was hit by a blast in Quetta city in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
According to local police official Abdul Razaq, the van was targeted with a remote controlled bomb planted on the roadside.
“One policeman died on the spot while another succumbed to his injuries later at the government hospital in the city,” another police official Abdullah Jan Afridi told AFP.
He said the four policeman injured in the incident were stable. -AFP