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Toxic Cough Syrup Kills 13 in Pakistan

Neighbors pray outside the residence of 62-year-old heart patient Chaudhry Mohammad Gulab after he was buried in Lahore on January 27, 2012. Gulab's health started to deteriorate after he was prescribed a new medication, his younger brother said.
Officials in Pakistan said at least 13 people have died after drinking cough syrup that is suspected of being toxic.

The deaths occurred in the eastern city of Lahore over the last three days.

Police officials said Monday that most of those who were sickened by the cough syrup were drug addicts.

Authorities have shut down at least three pharmacies where the syrup was being sold. Samples of the cough syrup have been sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Other developments

Separately on Monday, police say a bomb planted underneath the car of a prominent television anchor was found and defused in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

City police chief Bani Amin said half a kilogram of explosives were packed inside a metal tin and attached to the bottom of Hamid Mir's car. Mir, a host on GEO television, had stopped at the market when the bomb was placed under his vehicle.

It is unclear who planted the bomb, but Mir told reporters that he had been threatened by the Pakistani Taliban following media coverage of the schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban in October. The militant group said it targeted Malala Yousafzai for speaking out in favor of girls' education and against the Taliban.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said a reward of $500,000 has been offered for anyone with information about the bomb.

Also Monday, officials said a bomb blast killed one person and wounded at least four others in the southern port city of Karachi.

Police said the bomb was detonated by mobile phone and that it may have been planted to target Shi'ite Muslims passing through the area.

Pakistan suspended mobile phone services throughout Karachi and other major cities in recent days to prevent such attacks. However, at least five people were killed Sunday in a bomb blast near a Shi'ite procession in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan.

Pakistan's minority Shi'ites are observing the mourning rituals of Ashura in the holy month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Sunni extremists have frequently targeted Shi'ites during Muharram.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.