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Pakistan car bomb kills at least 19 in bus convoy on way to Iran

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By The Los Angeles Times
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 9:32 p.m.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least 19 people were killed by a car bomb in Pakistan on Sunday, the latest in a pattern of escalating attacks by militants in recent weeks.

An explosives-laden car exploded next to a convoy of three buses carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims from Pakistan's western Baluchistan province to Iran. The blast also injured 25 people.

Officials said the attack apparently involved a remote-controlled bomb planted in a Toyota Corolla parked along the road, which detonated just after a lead security vehicle that was guarding the convoy passed by. As soon as the first bus pulled alongside the car, the bomb exploded, all but destroying the vehicle.

The pilgrims had boarded in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, and were headed to Taftan, a border town in Iran. Shiites have often been the target of sectarian attacks by Sunni Muslim groups along this road, a main thoroughfare for pilgrims visiting religious sites in Iran.

“One security vehicle was leading the convoy while another one was behind it,” said Tufail Baloch, chief administrator in Mastung, where the attack took place.

Images on Pakistan's Geo TV channel showed the lead bus reduced to a charred, nearly unidentifiable jumble of metal, with the second and third badly damaged buses surrounded by ambulances tending to the injured.

Attacks on Shiites are on the rise in Pakistan, with more than 320 killed this year, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

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