A bomb attack on a bus carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwestern Pakistan has killed at least 19 people. Meanwhile, police were searching for the killers of 21 police officers who were kidnapped and shot dead.
The car bomb attack was reported to have hit a convey of three buses some 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the city of Quetta in Baluchistan province.
Government official Tufail Ahmed said some 20 people had been injured. The incident is believed to have occurred as the buses overtook the car carrying the explosives.
One of buses is understood to have been completely destroyed while a second bus was also badly damaged.
"The bus next to us caught on fire immediately," 60-year-old pilgrim Hussein Ali, who had been travelling on the second bus, told the Reuters news agency. "We tried to save our companions but were driven back by the intensity of the heat."
One unnamed eyewitness, who had also been aboard the second vehicle, told the Pakistani television channel Geo TV that the pilgrims had been on their way to neighboring Iran, a majority Shiite country. There was no claim of responsibility for the incident.
Baluchistan has become increasingly troubled with sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shiite communities, with the minority Shiites accounting for a fifth of Pakistan's population.
Taliban claims responsibility
A group affiliated with the Taliban that operates in the Darra Adam Khel region claimed responsibility for the abduction of the police officers Thursday. Hundreds of Taliban militants armed with heavy weapons attacked three security checkpoints on the outskirts of Peshawar.
The bodies of the captured officers were left on a cricket ground near to the city of Peshawar. They had been shot to death late Saturday night.
The men were tied up and blindfolded before being shot one-by-one, according to senior Khyber administration official Naveed Abbas.
rc/jlw (dpa, Reuters)