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Bomb rips Pakistan market, killing 63

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 8:12 p.m.

QUETTA, Pakistan — A bomb hidden in a water tank ripped through a crowded vegetable market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in a southwestern Pakistani city on Saturday, killing at least 63 people and wounding about 180, officials said.

Police said many of those wounded in the explosion in Quetta were in critical condition. The blast, which police said targeted the country's minority Muslim sect, left many victims buried under rubble, but authorities did not know how many.

It was the deadliest blast since bombings in the same city killed 86 people earlier this year, leading to days of protests that eventually toppled the local government.

Shiites, a minority in this Sunni Muslim-dominated country, have been increasingly attacked by militant groups who view them as heretics and non-Muslims. Many of the Shiites in Quetta are Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan more than a century ago.

Quetta police Chief Zubair Mahmood said the bomb was hidden in a water tank and towed into the market by a tractor. The blast destroyed shops in the neighborhood and caused a two-story building to collapse, he said.

“We fear some victims may be found buried there,” he said.

Mahmood said police did not yet know who was behind the bombing, but a local television station reported that Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group that has targeted Shiites in the past, had called to claim responsibility.

An officer, Samiullah Khan, said the bomb was detonated while dozens of women and children were buying produce for their evening meal.

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