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Deadly bomb blasts target Bangladeshi Shiites ahead of religious procession

A bomb attack at Dhaka's main Shiite site has killed one person and injured nearly 80 more while they gathered for the Ashoura procession. The tragedy follows a similar attack in Pakistan that left 15 Shiites dead.

At least three small bombs on Sasturday were detonated outside the Huseni Dalan as thousands of Shiite Muslim worshippers gathered for the annual Ashoura procession, which marks the peak of holy month Muharram.

Shiites hold the Ashoura procession to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Muslim Prophet Mohamed.

"There were some 20,000 people in and outside the building at that time. They were preparing to hold the annual Muharram mourning procession when the three [bombs] were exploded outside the Huseni Dalan," Dhaka police's Deputy Commissioner Mofiz Uddin Ahmed told AFP news agency.

Attacks proliferating

Police said the incident marks the first attack on Shiites in the Sunni Muslim-majority country. However, the past two years witnessed a significant rise in attacks against Sufi Muslims, Hindus and atheists.

The attack comes a day after a similar attack killed at least 15 Shiites gathering for the Ashoura procession.

While a group has yet to claim responsibility, previous attacks on Shiites have been carried out by

militant Sunni Muslim groups,

which

experts say the Pakistani state supports.

In Bangladesh, at least four secular bloggers were murdered in 2015, including

Niloy Neel,

who was hacked to death by

al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group Ansar al-Islam.

ls/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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