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Bomb Explodes Near Pakistani Muslim Shrine

The Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad was packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers attending a festival, when a bomb exploded, killing at least 19 people and injuring dozens of others. Ayaz Gul is on the scene, and tells VOA's Kate Pound Dawson in our Hong Kong office about the devastation caused by an apparent suicide bomber.

DAWSON: Ayaz how bad was the explosion?

People stand around bodies of bomb blast victims covered with blankets at Bari Imam shrine on outskirts of Islamabad, Friday
GUL: "From the scene, it clearly shows that it was a huge blast. Witnesses and those injured in this blast say it was a suicide bomb attack. The bomber, in fact, was sitting somewhere on the main stage. So far, they have transported 15 bodies to the hospital and over 60 injured have also been hospitalized. I can see blood and human body parts all over the place."

DAWSON: Ayaz, I understand that, today, the shrine was particularly crowded. Was there a festival or a holy day today?

GUL: "(In) the capital of Pakistan there is this famous shrine, known as Bari Imam, and, annually, thousands of people from all over Pakistan gather here for this religious ceremony, and this has been going for the past one week, and today was the peak day."

DAWSON: Is this shrine normally considered a Shiite shrine or a Sunni holy site?

GUL: "Well, there is no distinction about this shrine in Pakistan, particularly, because Sunni and Shiite -- from both these sects, people come annually to attend this festival, but most of the people who were present in this gathering, they were Shiites."

DAWSON: That was Ayaz Gul in Islamabad at the scene of the Bari Imam shrine bombing, and he was speaking with Kate Pound Dawson in Hong Kong

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