Pakistan car bomb blast kills 12 Shiites

Pakistan car bomb blast kills 12 Shiites

Officials said afternoon explosion left 45 injured

A car bomb ripped through a crowded market in a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Monday, killing 12 Shiite Muslims in the latest instance of sectarian violence to rock this country.

Pakistan is dominated by Sunni Muslims. It is also home to a sizeable minority of Shiites. While most Shiites and Sunnis coexist peacefully, Sunni extremists have often targeted Shiites who they do not consider to be true Muslims.

One government official, Sahibzada Anis, said the afternoon explosion in the town of Parachinar in the Kurram region also wounded 45. Another government official, Naseer Khan, said all of the dead were Shiite Muslims.

Kurram is the only region along the Afghan border that has a majority of Shiites, and has seen bloody outbreaks of sectarian violence in recent years.

The emergence of groups such as al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban in the country over the last 10 years has added to the frequency and viciousness of attacks against Shiites.
Meanwhile, a radical prayer leader in Islamabad and 19 others have been acquitted in the 2007 killing of a security officer, the cleric's lawyer said.

Maulana Abdul Aziz was the prayer leader of the capital's Red Mosque, a sanctuary for militants opposed to Pakistan's support of the U.S.-run war in Afghanistan. As opposition to the war grew, the mosque became a center of religious agitation against the government, with armed students taking over the complex.

Pakistani security officials later stormed the complex and 102 people were killed in the resulting week-long operation, most of them followers of the mosque.

Abdul Aziz was allegedly caught by security officials trying to sneak out of the complex.

He's already been acquitted in 18 of the 27 cases registered against him. He was freed from house arrest in 2009 and is now back at the mosque leading prayers. His lawyer, Mohammad Wajihullah Khan, said an anti-terrorism court judge acquitted Aziz Monday along with his family members and some seminary students in the killing of a security officer.