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KFC Burned During Riot In Pakistan

Six people were killed when a KFC restaurant was set on fire by a mob angry about a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in Karachi, bringing the overall death toll to 11, police said Tuesday.

The fast-food chicken restaurant was targeted in overnight rioting after Monday's attack on the Madinatul Ilm Imambargah mosque, where three assailants clashed with police before exploding a bomb in violence that killed two attackers, two policemen and one worshipper and wounded 26 others.

Four of the victims at the restaurant were burned to death, while the two others died after taking refuge in a refrigeration unit, senior police official Manzoor Mughal said. The six bodies were recovered Tuesday, bringing the overall death toll in the southern port city of Karachi to 11, he said.

Sunni Muslim extremists were suspected in the mosque attack, and it was unclear why KFC was targeted in retaliatory rioting, along with arson attacks on vehicles, shops, three bank branches and three gas stations.

However, the restaurant is heavily associated with the U.S. and rioters in Pakistan typically attack symbols of Washington while on a rampage. Anti-U.S. feeling grew in Pakistan after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf allied the country with Washington in the war on terror after Sept. 11, 2001.

Also Tuesday, dozens of Shiite Muslims tried to attack KFC after the funeral of a man also a Shiite who died in Monday's bombing in Karachi but police baton charged and detained 30 of them, said Athar Rashid, a police official. He said some other Shiites fled after a brief clash with the police, but before fleeing they set fire to a car.

Rauf Siddiqi, home minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, condemned the suicide bombing at the mosque and said security had been put on "high alert."

One of the three men involved in the mosque attack was hospitalized with injuries, police said.

He said his name was Mohammed Jamil and that he was from the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which is accused of orchestrating several attacks against minority Christians, Shiites and government officials, police said on condition of anonymity.


The group is mainly fighting Indian forces in India's part of Kashmir, but its supporters are also known for their links with al Qaeda.

Mushtaq Shah, chief of police operations in Karachi, said a "low-intensity bomb" was strapped to the body of one of the attackers and detonated inside the mosque.

The attack came three days after a suspected suicide bomber attacked a Shiite religious gathering during a festival at a shrine near Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, killing about 20 people and injuring dozens.

"These incidents are happening one after the other. We are trying to find a link between them," he told the private Geo television station. "This is a criminal and merciless attack."

Also Monday, assailants shot and killed Aslam Mujahid, a senior member from Pakistan's largest Islamic group, Jamaa-e-Islami Pakistan, after he was kidnapped from a funeral for another slain member of the party.

On Tuesday, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan asked people to observe a complete strike in Karachi on Wednesday to condemn the killing of Mujahid, the mosque attack and a bombing at a shrine in Islamabad.

He also asked people to observe "protest day" Friday to condemn alleged desecration of Quran at Guantanamo Bay. It is the third time that Ahmed has given a call for anti-U.S. protests since Newsweek magazine reported that interrogators at the U.S. prison placed copies of the Quran in washrooms and flushed one in the toilet to get inmates to talk.

The magazine later withdrew its story and apologized, but Pakistan has said this was not enough, and the country's radical Islamic groups are still protesting, saying the magazine had been made a scapegoat by the United States.

Pakistan has a history of sectarian violence, mostly blamed on rival majority Sunni and minority Shiite extremist groups. About 80 percent of Pakistan's 150 million people are Sunnis and 17 percent Shiites.

Most of the Muslims live together peacefully, but small groups of militants on both sides stage attacks. The schism between Sunnis and Shiites dates to the 7th century over who was the true heir to the Prophet Mohammed.

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