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BOMBERS KILL 35 IN PAKISTAN

The two suicide blasts at a popular Muslim shrine wound 175 others.

Associated Press

LAHORE, Pakistan - Two suicide bombers struck a popular Muslim shrine in Pakistan's second largest city, killing 35 people and wounding 175 others in the second major attack in Lahore in a month.

The bombers struck late Thursday as thousands of people visited the Data Darbar shrine, where a famous Sufi saint is buried. Muslims in Pakistan visit shrines and mosques in large numbers on Thursday and Friday nights.

Lahore has experienced a growing number of attacks as Taliban fighters along the northwest border with Afghanistan have teamed up with militant groups in the country's heartland once supported by the government.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But Islamist extremists consider Sufis to be heretics and have often targeted them, as well as Shiites and other minority groups.

The first bomber detonated his explosives in a large underground room where visitors sleep and wash themselves before praying, said Khusro Pervez, the top government official in Lahore.

The attack occurred as volunteers handed out food to people visiting the shrine, said Chaudary Mohammed Shafique, a senior police official.

Minutes later, a second bomber detonated his explosives upstairs in a large courtyard in front of the shrine as people tried to flee the first attack, Pervez said.

The blasts ripped concrete from the walls, twisted metal gates and left wires hanging from the ceiling, television footage showed.

"It was a horrible scene," said Mohammed Nasir a volunteer security guard at the shrine who was getting ready to pray when the first blast occurred. "There were dead bodies all around with blood and people were crying."

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