A bomb blast in Pakistan came within hours of news surfacing that American drones killed a high-ranking Taliban leader in that country.
Hakimullah Mehsud may have been killed on Jan. 12 in the tribal region of North Waziristan, Voice of America said. Intelligence officers said they intercepted Taliban radio transmissions about Mehsud’s death.
The Taliban denied the claim, and Pakistani officials offered no confirmation. The news came as a bomb blast killed as many as 17 people during a Shi’ite Muslim procession in Khanpur.
Voice of America said 20 more were injured as worshipers marked the festival of Arbain, the end of 40 days of mourning for the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein.
Sohail Chattha, the area's police chief, told Reuters that the explosive was planted near a power pole and detonated by remote control as the procession arrived, according to BBC.
The blast is just the latest attack by Sunni militants against the minority Shias.
"There was a loud explosion a few yards from the procession and we all scrambled to get away," survivor Imran Iqbal told Reuters. "Debris was everywhere, and a cloud of dust engulfed us. Many people died on the spot."
Video of the scene shows a grisly scene. Dust filled the sky and wounded could be heard crying, the BBC said. Survivors accused police of providing poor security, causing clashes, the BBC said.
The New York Times said the death toll is expected to rise, and estimated the injuries at 25.
“Ordinary Shias going about their daily lives are being increasingly targeted and killed,” Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director for Human Rights Watch in New York, told the Times.
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Here's a video of the attack: