At least 18 killed in blast during Chehlum procession [DAWN]

MULTAN: A homemade bomb exploded on Sunday near a Chehlum procession in the central Pakistani town of Khanpur, killing 18 people and wounding 30, police officials said.

Sunday’s explosion in Khanpur came as mourners were marking the 40th day of mourning the death of Imam Hussain.

The explosion went off as the mourners came out of a mosque, said District Police Chief Sohail Chatta. The bomb appeared to have been planted near an electric pole ahead of time in the path of the procession, he said.

“There was a loud explosion a few yards from the procession and we all scrambled to get away,” said Imran Iqbal, one of the members of the procession.

“Debris was everywhere, and a cloud of dust engulfed us. Many people died on the spot.”

Police officer Ghazanfer Ali said the crowd of mourners started throwing rocks at police after the blast and officers had to lob tear gas canisters into the crowd to control them.

Officials had originally thought the explosion came from a malfunctioning electric cable, but later found that there had been a bomb, he said.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said police investigators were still examining the area for clues. Security had been provided for the procession, but it had been breached, Sanaullah said.

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