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Blast kills at least 26 outside Pakistani courtroom

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Sunni Muslim leader among the dead

January 18, 1997
Web posted at: 7:45 a.m. EST (1245 GMT)

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- A bomb exploded outside a courthouse in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, killing at least 26 people, including a militant Sunni Muslim leader.

Lahore police said no one has claimed responsibility for the blast that left over 50 people injured.

The bomb was hidden in a motorcycle parked outside the Sessions Court, and it detonated as Ziaur Rehman Farooqi, leader of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) group, arrived for a court appearance.

Farooqi and his deputy, Maulana Azam Tariq, were on their way to trial on charges related to the murders of rival Shiite Muslim leaders. Farooqi died in the hospital after the blast, and Tariq was seriously wounded.

Eyewitnesses said more than 100 people were outside the courtroom at the time of the explosion, and most of the casualties were policemen, journalists, lawyers or SSP supporters.

Animosities between militant Sunnis and Shiites claimed over 40 lives last year in Pakistan, where Shiites make up about 15 percent of the predominately Sunni population.

At least 3 Shiite activists have been killed in recent weeks -- two in separate incidents on December 31 and another on Monday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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