The Stream looks at the escalating violence towards the minority group.
A bomb attack on a Shia Muslim procession has killed five people and wounded scores more in northwest Pakistan as the group marked Ashoura, a day of religious significance for Shia and some Sunni Muslims.
The bomb exploded on Sunday in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where another blast on Saturday killed eight people near a Shia Muslim procession.
“Five people were killed and 83 injured in the bomb blast,” Shafeerulla Khan, a senior government official in regional capital Peshawar told AFP news agency.
Khan said preliminary investigations indicated the device was planted inside a shop but police were probing whether a suicide bomber was involved.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said the armed group claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened more attacks.
“It was a suicide attack and we claim responsibility for it,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
He repeated his threat made on Saturday that the Taliban had dispatched more suicide bombers across the country for attacks against the minority community.
The group claimed Saturday’s bombing, and a suicide attack that killed 23 people on Thursday at a Shia procession in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Anwar Khan Akbar, a police official confirmed the death toll and said the target of the attack was the Ashoura procession.
Khalid Aziz, a doctor in the city’s main hospital, told Pakistan’s private ARY TV channel some of the injured were in critical condition.
In a separate development, police in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi said they foiled a major terrorist attack.
They said they killed a Taliban member in a gun battle and recovered a 100kg bomb planted in a car.
Police arrested another suspected Taliban member and also found two suicide vests, two AK-47 assault rifles and two pistols in the car.
“Police intercepted the car and killed a militant in an exchange of gunfire,” Aslam Khan, a senior police official, told AFP, saying that the suspects planned to use the car to target an Ashoura procession.
In December 2009, a suicide bomber killed 43 people in Karachi at a Shia procession to mark Ashoura.
Pakistan has deployed tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces to try to avert sectarian clashes or attacks on Ashoura marches.
While both Shia and some Sunni Muslims mark the day of Ashoura, it is a day of commemoration for Shia Muslims who mourn the killing of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussein.
Authorities have ordered heightened security, with services for mobile phones, which are often used to trigger bombs, suspended in major cities.
More than 300 Shia Pakistani’s have been killed this year alone in sectarian related conflict, according to local Pakistani media.