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A bomb attack claimed by the Taliban on a Shiite Muslim procession killed five and wounded scores in northwest Pakistan Sunday as the minority marked their holiest day of Ashura.

The bomb exploded in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where a blast on Saturday killed eight people near a Shiite Muslim procession.

"Five people were killed and 83 injured in the bomb blast," Shafeerulla Khan, a senior government official in regional capital Peshawar told AFP.

Khan said preliminary investigations indicated the device was planted inside a shop but police were probing whether a suicide bomber was involved.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened more attacks.

"It was a suicide attack and we claim responsibility for it," Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He repeated his threat made Saturday that the Taliban had dispatched more suicide bombers across the country for attacks against the minority community.

The group claimed Saturday's bombing, and a suicide attack that killed 23 people Thursday at a Shiite procession in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Nazir Khan, a police official in Dera Ismail Khan, said Sunday's blast was from a bomb planted inside a shop. "It was a remote-controlled bomb and exploded as a procession reached here," he said.

Police official Anwar Khan Akbar confirmed the death toll and said the target of the attack was the Ashura procession.

Khalid Aziz, a doctor in the city's main hospital, told Pakistan's private ARY TV channel some of the injured were in critical condition.

Meanwhile, police in Pakistan's largest city Karachi said they foiled a major terrorist attack. They said they had killed a Taliban militant in a gun battle and recovered a 100-kilogramme bomb planted in a car.

Police arrested another militant and also found two suicide vests, two AK-47 assault rifles and two pistols in the car.

"Police intercepted the car and killed a militant in an exchange of gunfire," Aslam Khan, a senior police official, told AFP, adding that the militants planned to use the car to target an Ashura procession.

In December 2009, a suicide bomber killed 43 people in Karachi at a Shiite procession to mark Ashura.

Pakistan has deployed tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces to try to avert sectarian clashes or attacks on Ashura processions, when Shiites whip themselves to mourn the killing of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Imam Hussein.

Authorities have ordered heightened security, with services for mobile phones -- which are often used to trigger bombs -- suspended in major cities.
Shiites, a minority in Sunni-dominated Pakistan, have been marking the holy month of Muharram which culminated Sunday in Ashura.

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