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Violent Protests Follow Attack on Pakistani Mosque


Senior Pakistani officials say at least 30 people are dead and 50 injured, after an attack on a Shi'ite mosque in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan. Violent protests have broken out over the killings, prompting a police clampdown on the city.

At least five armed men stormed a Shi'ite mosque in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, opening fire on the worshippers before lobbing grenades into the building.

Witnesses say the attack took place as Friday prayers were beginning, at the point in the service when worshippers had their heads bowed. Police reportedly captured one of the assailants.

The killings brought demonstrators onto the streets, some of whom lit fires in front of a hospital where the survivors were being treated.

Some angry demonstrators also reportedly tried to set fire to a local firefighting station.

The violence prompted authorities to declare a curfew in the city and to deploy paramilitary police throughout the area.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, currently on a state visit to France, is vowing to punish the attackers. He decried elements that, he says, are undermining what the country stands for. Observers say the attack is likely another case of sectarian violence between Pakistan's Shi'ite minority and Sunni Muslims.

While the two communities usually live side-by-side peacefully, the religious divide has sometimes been the source of clashes.

Baluchistan has seen recent killings by Shi'ite and Sunni extremists, including the shooting of at least 11 Shi'ite police recruits last month.

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