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Shi'a Targeted In Bomb Attack In South Pakistan

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard at the site of the bus bombing in Balochistan on December 30.
At least 19 people were killed in southern Pakistan in a bombing that targeted buses carrying Shi'ite pilgrims.

A car bomb was detonated near a three-bus convoy of pilgrims traveling under security escort through Balochistan Province's Mastung district.

An additional 25 people were injured in the blast, including two officers in an escort vehicle.

Early reports were unclear whether the bomb was detonated by remote control. But Muhammad Hashim, a provincial security official, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal the blast was the result of a suicide bomber.

"The bus was on its way from Quetta to Taftan," Hashim added. "Two vehicles of our security forces were escorting them."

Taftan, in Iran, is a popular destination for Shi'ite Muslims.

Shi'a have been a frequent target of attacks in Balochistan, where radical Sunni groups linked to Islamist insurgents have been blamed for waging violent campaigns.

There have been numerous attacks on minority Shi'a in the Mastung district alone.

Survivors of the blast were returned to the provincial capital, Quetta, after the incident.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa