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At Least 9 Killed in Attack on Karachi Mosque - 2003-02-22

Unidentified gunmen have shot dead at least nine worshipers and wounded several others in a mosque in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.

Eyewitnesses say that at least three gunmen took part in the attack on a mosque in Karachi that belongs to the minority Shiite Muslims. They say that the attackers opened fire with automatic weapons just when the worshipers were gathering for evening prayers.

Those injured in the attack are being treated at the city's main Jinnah Hospital. A senior doctor, Seemi Jamali, told VOA by telephone from Karachi that several of the wounded are in serious condition. "Suddenly, we heard that there was some firing at a place outside the 'Imambargah,' which is a mosque for a [Shiite] sect of the Muslim community," she said. "And people were shot at randomly. They were mostly hit on the upper torso and the limbs. We have seven patients who are injured with gunshot injuries over here."

Witnesses say the assailants managed to flee the scene. No one has yet claimed responsibility for what appears to be a fresh outbreak of Muslim sectarian violence, involving militants from the majority Sunni and minority Shiite communities. The rivalry has killed hundreds of people in recent years in Pakistan.

President Pervez Musharraf outlawed several extremist groups last year in an attempt to stem the religious violence.

Police in Karachi are calling Saturday's incident an act of terrorism. The southern port city has seen a series of deadly attacks in recent months, mainly against minority Christians and foreigners.