ISLAMABAD: A Taliban suicide bomber struck a Shia Muslim procession near Pakistan’s capital, killing 23 people in the latest of a series of bombings targeting Shias during the holiest month of the year for the sect, officials said yesterday.

The bomber attacked the procession at about midnight on Wednesday in the city of Rawalpindi, next to the capital, Islamabad, said Deeba Shahnaz, a state rescue official. At least 62 people were wounded by the blast, including six policemen. Eight of the dead and wounded were children, said Shahnaz.

Police tried to stop and search the bomber as he attempted to join the procession, but he ran past them and detonated his explosives, said senior police official Haseeb Shah. The attacker was also carrying grenades, some of which exploded, said Shah.

“I think the explosives combined with grenades caused the big loss,” said Shah.

Local TV footage showed the scene of the bombing littered with body parts and smeared with blood. Shias beat their heads and chests in anguish.

“It was like the world was ending,” said one of the victims, Nasir Shah. He was being treated at a local hospital for wounds to his hands and legs.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Taliban set off two bombs within minutes outside a Shia mosque in the southern city of Karachi, killing one person and wounding 15 others. – Sapa-AP