| GEO Pakistan|
Tally from Quetta bombing rises to 59; dozens hurt
| Updated at: 0736 PST, Saturday, September 04, 2010|
QUETTA: The death toll from suicide bombing at Youm-ul-Quds rally has mounted to 59 while another 197 are injured as the country struggles with the aftermath of massive floods.
The bomber was among the 450-strong crowd marching through the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday and blew himself up as the procession reached the main square.
Chaotic scenes followed, with an angry mob starting fires and shooting into the air while others fled or lay on the ground to avoid the gunfire.
"According to the reports collected from hospitals, 59 people have been killed and 197 have been injured," Sardar Khan, chief of Quetta's police control room, told media by telephone.
In northwest Pakistan, at least one man was killed and four-wounded Friday when a suicide bomber blew himself up after being apprehended by police outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect in the city of Mardan, police said.
The attacks were the latest in a string of apparent sectarian bloodshed and came just days after three suicide bombers killed 31 people and wounded hundreds more during a Shiite mourning procession in Lahore. That attack was subsequently claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Washington condemned the attacks against religious minorities.
"To target innocent civilians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at an already difficult time as the country is working hard to recover from terrible flooding caused by monsoons makes these acts even more reprehensible," the White House said.
"In line with the deepening partnership between our two nations, the United States government continues to assist and work closely with the government of Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild and recover, and we will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan as they face these challenging times," the White House said.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley earlier said the United States strongly condemned "the recent barbaric attacks on religious processions in Lahore and Quetta and on a place of worship in Mardan, near Peshawar."
Friday's rally in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province, was held to mark Al-Quds day, an international event staged each year by the Shiite community to oppose Israel's control of Jerusalem and show solidarity with Palestinian Muslims.
Baluchistan police chief Malik Iqbal said rally organisers had been warned to use a different route in case of attacks.
Police were forced to quell unrest after the bombing, Khan said.
"An angry mob tried to set on fire a private building and vehicles. Some of the participants were armed and they were firing in the air. They also set on fire some bicycles and motorcycles," said Khan.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the bombing and called for an immediate inquiry.
Militants have launched a series of attacks as Muslims mark the final days of the holy month of Ramadan even as the country struggles to deal with massive flooding that has killed nearly 1,800 people and left millions reliant on aid handouts.
More than 3,660 people have been killed in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists, in Pakistan during the last three years.