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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suicide bombers kill 41 at GD Khan shrine

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Three suicide bomb attacks outside a shrine in Punjab on Sunday killed 41 people. Taliban have claimed responsibility.

The bombers struck outside the shrine of the 13th century Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan district.

Hundreds of worshippers had gathered at the shrine for a religious ceremony when the attacks took place.

"We have recovered 41 bodies so far," said a police officer in DG Khan city, Zahid Hussain Shah, adding that more than 70 were wounded.

“All the three were suicide blasts. The attackers came on foot and blew themselves up when police on duty stopped them."

"We arrested an attacker who could not completely detonate the explosives on his body. He was wounded," Zahid told reporters.

Many of those wounded in the attack were in a serious condition, he said, and the injured have been taken to the Dera Ghazi Khan hospital for treatment.

People started running outside the shrine. Women and children were crying and screaming. It was like hell, an eyewitness said. TV footage showed ambulances racing to hospitals and volunteers helping blood-soaked victims.

A police official, requesting anonymity, said the shrine had received threats from unidentified militants.

Taliban Claim Responsibility

Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide bombings.

"Our men carried out these attacks and we will carry out more in retaliation for government operations against our people in the northwest," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Last October, a bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in Pak Pattan, killed six people. In July, 42 people were killed in a bomb attack in Data Darbar, Lahore.

More than 4,150 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bomb explosions, blamed on homegrown Taliban and other extremist networks, since government troops stormed a Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July 2007.

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