Police say attack on mosque of minority sect in northwest Pakistan kills at least 1

Friday, September 3, 2010

Police: Attack on Pakistan minority mosque kills 1

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide attack on a mosque belonging to a minority sect killed at least one person and wounded several others in northwest Pakistan on Friday, police said.

Pakistan has been hit by dozens of attacks on religious minorities in recent years, including a triple suicide attack Wednesday night that killed 35 people at a Shiite ceremony in the eastern city of Lahore.

Most of the attacks have been claimed by the hardline Sunni Pakistani Taliban, which is seeking to destabilize a Western-backed government already shaken by flooding that has caused massive displacement, suffering and economic damage.

In May, two teams of seven militants armed with hand grenades, suicide vests and assault rifles attacked two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, killing 97 and wounding dozens.

Police official Ahsanullah Khan said the bomber in Friday’s attack appeared to have detonated himself after he was prevented from entering the mosque in the town of Mardan.

Many mainstream Muslims consider the Ahmadis heretics for believing that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a savior foretold by the Quran, Islam’s holy book. They say Ahmadis are defying the basic tenet of Islam that says Muhammad is the final prophet.

Ahmadis argue that their leader was the savior rather than a prophet.

The sect spread into Muslim-majority Pakistan after British India was partitioned and now claims 160 million adherents in 180 countries, according to a spokesman, Aslam Daud.

Under pressure from Islamists, Pakistan in the 1970s declared Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority. Pakistani Ahmadis — who number between 3 million and 4 million — are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or engaging in practices such as reciting Islamic prayers.

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