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Attackers strike sect mosques in Pakistan, killing 80

Rescue personnel load an injured man into an ambulance outside a mosque in the Garhi Shahu area of Lahore on Friday.

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Rescue personnel load an injured man into an ambulance outside a mosque in the Garhi Shahu area of Lahore on Friday.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Seven militants armed with grenades, guns and suicide vests stormed two mosques belonging to a minority sect Friday, killing at least 80 people in coordinated attacks, authorities said.

The target in the eastern city of Lahore was the Ahmadi sect, one of Pakistan's most beleaguered minority groups. Numbering about 4 million, they consider themselves Muslims but believe their late 19th-century founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet of God — a heresy for most Muslims, who believe Mohammed was the last prophet. Ahmadis suffer severe discrimination and are legally barred from calling themselves Muslims.

The attacks occurred during Friday prayers, when Ahmadis filled two of the sect's mosques in the neighborhoods of Model Town and Garhi Shahu. In both cases, militants were able to easily get inside the mosques, where they opened fire with guns and threw grenades at terrified worshipers, authorities said. More than 110 were wounded.

Three of the attackers died when they detonated their suicide vests. Two were captured.

Pakistan's Geo TV channel said the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility.

Punjab province is rife with sectarian groups that prey on religious minorities such as Ahmadis, Christians and Shiite Muslims. In April, Ahmadis were subject to a wave of kidnappings and killings in the city of Faisalabad.

An Ahmadi elder said the Model Town mosque had reported receiving threats to police but had not gotten help.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Attackers strike sect mosques in Pakistan, killing 80 05/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 28, 2010 11:17pm]

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