PESHAWAR: At least 22 people were killed and 40 injured Friday when a suicide bomber triggered a massive explosion that tore through worshippers who poured out of a mosque after Friday prayers in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said media reports.
"It was a suicide attack which targeted Shia Muslims but Sunnis also fell victim since their mosque and some shops were also very close to the site, Hangu police chief Mian Mohammad Saeed told BBC.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Saeed said the bomber staged his attack at one of the mosques exits leading to a crowded bazaar. At least 22 people were killed and 45 wounded. One policeman who was guarding the mosque was killed and another was injured, he said.
Shia Muslims in Pakistan have increasingly been targeted by radical militant groups, allied to Al-Qaeda and 2012 was the bloodiest year for the minority sect in the countrys history.
Rescue workers said 12 people were killed on the spot while 10 succumbed to their injuries undergoing treatment at a hospital.
Hospital sources said some 45 people were wounded, of which six were in serious condition. They have been shifted to the neighbouring Kohat district for intensive care treatment.
Bomb squad officials said around seven to eight kg of explosives were used in the blast.
Soon after the attack, all exit points of the area were blocked.
Abu Omar, a Taliban commander in the tribal region of North Waziristan, said in a telephone interview that the attack was in revenge for the killing on Thursday of a Sunni cleric in port city of Karachi.
Hangu is a Sunni majority town, but is located on the main route to the mainly Shia Khurram region.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since the rise of religious militancy in the country.
Thousands more have also been displaced by the wave of violence against the minority community in the country.
In November, 23 Shia Muslims were killed by a bomb in the city of Rawalpindi, and last month 19 pilgrims returning from Iran died in an attack on a bus convoy in Baluchistan.
Then on 10 January, more than 80 people died in twin blasts in a snooker hall in a Shia area of the city of Quetta. Agencies
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