ISLAMABAD – A roadside bomb killed at least seven people and wounded 30 others at a Shiite Muslim procession in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, police said, as minority Shiites prepared to observe the holy day of Ashoura.
Police official Rashid Khan said the bomb struck the procession in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, which is located near the South Waziristan tribal region.
The dead included three children, he said, while some of the injured were in critical condition.
Khan said about 100 Shiites were passing through the city to join a main procession when the bomb went off. No one claimed responsibility, but the suspicion fell on Pakistani Taliban who often carry out such attacks.
On Sunday, Shiites in Pakistan will celebrate Ashoura, which commemorates the seventh century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. The Sunni-Shiite schism over Muhammad's rightful heir dates back to that time.
President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the bombing and reiterated his government's resolve to stop militants.
"Such nefarious acts cannot deter the people and the government in their fight against the scourge of militancy," he said in a statement.
Pakistan has deployed thousands of additional police across the country to beef up security, and authorities have suspended mobile phone service in all the major cities for two days to prevent such bombings.
Officials say Taliban frequently use cellular phones as remote detonators for bomb attacks.
Pakistani Taliban and other banned Sunni militant groups often target Shiites during the time around Ashoura.