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Bomb kills 5 at Sufi shrine in Pakistan

A bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded at the gate of a famous Sufi shrine in central Pakistan during morning prayers Monday, killing at least five people, said officials.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded at the gate of a famous Sufi shrine in central Pakistan during morning prayers Monday, killing at least five people, said officials.

The bombing at the Farid Shakar Ganj shrine in Punjab province was the latest in a string of attacks targeting Sufi shrines in Pakistan. Islamist militants often target Sufis, whose mystical practices clash with their hardline interpretations of Islam.

The dead from Monday's attack included at least one woman, said Maher Aslam Hayat, a senior government official in Pak Pattan district where the shrine is located. At least 13 others were wounded by the explosion, he said.

The blast damaged several shops outsid the shrine, said Hayat. But the shrine itself, which is dedicated to a 12th century Sufi saint, was largely unscathed, he said.

Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim, and the majority practice Sufi-influenced Islam.

Two suspected suicide bombers attacked the most beloved Sufi shrine in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, earlier this month, killing at least eight people and wounding 65 others.

A suicide attack in July killed 47 people at the nation's most revered Sufi shrine, Data Darbar in the eastern city of Lahore. That attack infuriated many Pakistanis, who saw it as an unjustified assault on peaceful civilians.

Pakistan has waged a heated military campaign against Islamist militants at war with the state, but it has resisted U.S. pressure to expand its effort to target Taliban militants based the North Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border who regularly attack foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Sunday his country will deal with North Waziristan on its own timeline despite the latest effort by the U.S. to push the country forward by offering a new $2 billion military aid package.

"We have our own priorities. We have our own sense of timing," said Qureshi after returning from high-level strategic talks in Washington where the aid package was announced.

The five-year, $2 billion aid package announced during the recent talks to encourage Pakistan to step up its military campaign is meant to purchase American arms, ammunition and accessories from 2012 to 2016.

The new aid, which must be approved by Congress, replaces a similar but less valuable package that began in 2005 and expired on Oct. 1. It will complement $7.5 billion in civilian assistance the administration has already committed to Pakistan over five years.