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Suicide Attack On Pakistani Shi'ite Politician Kills 12

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- A suicide bomber has killed at least 12 people and wounded a leading Pakistani opposition politician and member of the minority Shi'ite Muslim community, police said.

The attack targeted the home of Rashid Akbar Khan Nawani, a member of parliament for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party, in the town of Bhakkar, 260 kilometers southwest of Islamabad.

"The bomber blew himself up in the courtyard when Mr. Nawani was sitting with his supporters there," Khadim Hussain, a police officer, told Reuters.

Shaukat Javed, police chief of Punjab, said 12 people were killed.

Nawani has spoken out in parliament several times recently against growing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

Deep in the central province of Punjab, Bhakkar is in an area where sectarian tensions have run high.

"It could a sectarian-related attack, as he belongs to the Shi'ite community," said Khan Baig, a senior police officer in the region.

Several Sunni militant groups, like Lashkar-e Jhangvi, that regard Shi'a as their enemy, also share a similar world view to Al-Qaeda and have forged links with Osama bin Laden's network.