RAWALPINDI: At least 20 people were killed and 47 others injured in a suicide blast at a Moharram procession near an Imambargah here on Wednesday night, Geo News reported.
The attack, in the Dhok Sayidan area of Rawalpindi, comes hours after two back-to-back bomb blasts --40 minutes apart-- near an Imambargah in Karachi, which killed two people and left 16 others wounded.
Sources quoted eyewitnesses as saying that a suicide bomber suddenly entered into the Moharram-ul-Haram procession and detonated the explosives strapped to his body.
"Two unknown people, who did not appear to be mourners, barged in the procession and one of them blew himself up", said eyewitnesses.
It is pertinent to mention that around 3,000-4,000 mourners left one Imamabargah in the form of a procession and were on their way to another, when the bomber struck.
The blast blew a hole in one of the walls of Imambargah. Body parts were scattered at the scene.
Hundreds of mourners, beating their heads and chests,kept marching, even though other explosive devices were found at the site.
A hand grenade, which failed to go off, was also recovered from the spot of the blast.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Rescue and emergency teams have kicked off their services while ambulances have engaged in shifting the injured to District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQ) and other medical care facilities.
Rescue sources fear the death toll might go up as more and more critically injured victims were pouring into the emergency rooms.
Later DCO Rawalindi, Saqib Zafar, confirmed the casualties.
"So far we have received credible reports that 20 people have been killed and 47 injured in the suicide blast", Zafar told media.
He said around 14 bodies were brought to Rawalpindi DHQ, whereas 6 bodies to Combined Military Hospital.
He also informed the media that 5 injured victims of the blast were shifted to Benazir Bhutto Hospital. Moreover blast victims were also other hospitals as well.
On the other hand Medical Superintendent, Dr Sher Ali told media that DHQ Rawalpindi had received 30 injured of which 16 were discharged after first aid, while the wounds of 14 others were being tended to.
Dr Sher also revealed the severed head of the suicide bomber was in the custody of DHQ authorities.
The rest of the remains of the suicide bomber were also sent to a hospital for a DNA test, sources added.
Security forces cordoned off the area and started scouring the blast site for the pieces of evidence.
Two policemen and a couple of volunteers are also among the injured.
A large number of people gathered outside the blast site and chanted slogans against the poor security measures taken by the government.
They claimed that the security arrangements were not enough to provide protection to the mourners and alleged that the police personnel were not properly checking the suspicious from joining the procession.
Owing to this chaotic situation, security forces had a hard time combing the area to collect whatever traces of forensic evidence could be found on top of detecting the presence of more explosives.
"The area could not be cleared for investigation as the bereaved families and friends had refused to leave the site of tragedy", said sources.
Army helicopters continued to conduct aerial surveillance after the incident.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the attacks were designed to create the impression that the government is incapable of providing adequate security for the summit.
"We are trying to build relationships, get investment in Pakistan and these groups are trying to derail the process," he told media.
The violence erupted a day before Pakistan hosts a summit of developing nations attended by the leaders of Iran, Egypt,Turkey, Indonesia and other countries. Some of the presidents have already arrived.