Original source:
A bomb tore through a funeral procession for a murdered Shi’ite Muslim leader in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Friday, killing at least 30 people and wounding scores more.

Rising sectarian attacks threaten to further destabilise nuclear-armed Pakistan just as it faces intense international pressure to crack down on Islamist militants.

Friday’s explosion struck a 1,000-strong crowd streaming toward a graveyard in the town of Dera Ismail Khan for the burial of Sher Zeman, a Shi’ite leader who was gunned down in the city the day before.

Ashiq Salim, a doctor at the main hospital in the city, said that 30 bodies had been brought there and that medics were scrambling to treat another 60 people who were wounded.

Police said that people angered by the attack had fired on officers rushing to the scene, where TV footage showed a bloodstained street littered with torn clothing.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Shi’ite Muslims make up more than a quarter of Pakistan’s 160 million population.

Relations between the Sunni majority and Shi’ites are under growing strain from a series of attacks blamed on sectarian extremists.

In the deadliest recent incident, a car bomb killed 29 people and wounded scores near a Shi’ite mosque in Peshawar in December.

On February 5, a suicide bomber killed 24 at a Shi’ite mosque in a central city.

Much of the bloodshed has been in the north-west, where Islamist guerillas have seized control of swathes of territory including the Swat Valley, in defiance of a year-long army operation.

Troops and militants have been observing a ceasefire in Swat since Sunday, when authorities agreed to introduce sharia law in the area if militants lay down their arms.

Richard Holbrooke, the new US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said on Thursday that he had raised concerns about the deal with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr Holbrooke said that US President Barack Obama hoped ‘that this deal, which is portrayed in the press as a truce, does not turn into a surrender.’

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