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Bomb Kills 15 Near Shi'ite Mosque In Pakistan

MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) -- At least 15 people were killed and up to 25 wounded in a suspected suicide attack near a Shi'ite mosque in central Pakistan, government officials and witnesses said.

The explosion on February 5 took place in the city of Dera Ghazi Khan in central Punjab Province when a religious procession of Shi'ites was passing the mosque.

"Fifteen bodies have been sent to hospital. These included four children and two women," Jawed Mehmood Bhatti, a district government official, told Reuters.

"According to eyewitnesses, nothing was thrown from outside. It looks as if someone was standing at the site of the blast and waiting for the procession and he blew himself up as the procession came close to him," he added.

Shi'ites are currently marking their annual 40-day period of mourning for Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed in a 7th century battle in the Iraqi city of Kerbala.

Shi'ites take part in processions on the streets and beat their chests to mourn Hussein's death. Radical Sunnis deem such rituals as un-Islamic.

Shi'ites account for about 20 percent of Pakistan's 160 million population, which is mainly Sunni.

The two Muslim sects generally live at peace with each other, but thousands of people have been killed in tit-for-tat killings and bomb attacks by militant groups over the past two decades.