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After roadside blast kills 7 in Pakistan, Taliban threatens more attacks

Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET: ISLAMABAD — After a roadside bomb killed at least seven people near a Shiite procession in Pakistan on Saturday, the Pakistan Taliban warned that more attacks were coming.

The Pakistan Taliban called the Agence France-Presse from an undisclosed location to claim responsibility for the attacks. Ehsanullah Ehsan told the AFP that the Taliban had dispatched more than 20 suicide bombers to target Shiite Muslims, the religious minority. 

Four boys were among the dead; another 30 were wounded.

Pakistan suspended phone coverage in cities across the country this weekend, an important one in the Shiite Muslim calendar, after a series of bomb attacks on Shiites were triggered by mobile phones.

Hardline Sunnis have threatened more attacks as the Shiite mourning month of Muharram comes to a climax. More than a dozen people have already been killed this week observing Muharram.

Muharram marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, where the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and his family members were killed.

Pakistani intelligence officials say extremist groups led by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have intensified their bombings and shootings of Shiites in the hope of triggering conflict that would pave the way for a Sunni theocracy in U.S.-allied Pakistan.

The schism between Sunnis and Shiites developed after the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 when his followers could not agree on a successor.

Saturday's attack occurred in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan's northwest, a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked Sunni militant groups who regard Shiites as non-Muslims and have stepped up sectarian attacks in a bid to destabilize Pakistan.

The explosion followed a suicide attack that killed 23 people at a Shiite procession, according to the AFP. 

Boy hurled from street to roof

Police said the bomb was set off by a television remote control device because cellphones were not operational.

The explosion was so powerful that it hurled a young boy onto a rooftop from a street, where a man later carried away half of his body, as a policeman with a bomb detector and residents stood near blood stains.

Intelligence information indicates more attacks have been planned for the coming days in the capital city of Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta. Mobile phone service will be suspended for hours in the three cities and dozens of others over the weekend.

In Karachi, more than 5,000 police are expected to patrol the streets during Muharram events over the next two days, with hundreds more on alert.

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