At least 10 people were killed and 25 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia congregation hall in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Thursday.
The attacker, a youth aged about 18 years who was clad in black, detonated his explosives at the entrance of the Mirza Kasim Imambargah at Kohati in the congested old quarters of Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, at 6.55 pm (local time).
A large number of people were present in the hall for ceremonies associated with the Islamic month of Muharram, which is particularly sacred for Shias.
Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said in Islamabad that the suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the Imambargah when he was stopped by security personnel who were frisking all persons entering the hall.
However, eyewitnesses said the attacker managed to get to the entrance of the hall and opened fire with a handgun while trying to approach the 'Zaaqir' or preacher. He then blew himself up.
Among the dead were the 'Mutawalli' or caretaker of the Imambargah and a policeman. The injured included five children, three women and two lady police constables who were deployed at the Imambargah as part of special security arrangements for Muharram, a period marked by sectarian tensions in the past.