Updated at 7:29 a.m. ET: A Taliban suicide bomber struck a procession near Pakistan's capital, killing 23 people in the latest of a series of bombings targeting Shiite Muslims during the sect's holiest month of the year, officials said Thursday.
The bomber attacked the procession around midnight Wednesday in the city of Rawalpindi, said Deeba Shahnaz, a state rescue official.
At least 62 people were wounded by the blast, including six police officers. Eight of the dead and wounded were children, Shahnaz said.
Police tried to stop and search the bomber as he attempted to join the procession, but he ran past them and detonated his explosives, senior police official Haseeb Shah said. The attacker was also carrying grenades, some of which exploded, Shah said.
"I think the explosives combined with grenades caused the big loss," said Shah.
Local TV footage showed the scene of the bombing littered with body parts and smeared with blood. Shiites beat their heads and chests in anguish.
"It was like the world was ending," said one of the victims, Nasir Shah, describing the blast. He was being treated at a local hospital for wounds to his hands and legs.
Earlier Wednesday, the Taliban set off two bombs within minutes outside a Shiite mosque in the southern city of Karachi, killing one person and wounding 15 others, senior police official Javed Odho said.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attacks in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
"We have a war of belief with Shiites," Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location. "They are blasphemers. We will continue attacking them."
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