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Two Iranians Shot in Pakistan

February 21, 1998

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Two Iranian construction workers were gunned down on Saturday in southern Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city wracked by relentless sectarian and ethnic killings.

Several hours later a bomb exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque in the heart of the city, killing one person and injuring two other people.

No one took immediate responsibility for the daylight shooting or the bombing that occurred shortly before midnight, police said.

There was no evidence to link the two incidents said police, except that both targeted Shiite Muslims.

About 200 people were attending a memorial service for a Shiite Muslim leader, who had died several weeks ago in an accident, when a bomb planted outside the mosque gate exploded, police said.

One person nearby the gate was killed and two others were injured, although it wasn’t known how seriously.

Meanwhile police released few details about Saturday’s shooting of two Iranian laborers in the posh Clifton area where they were working on an overpass.

In the last one year eight Iranians have been killed in Pakistan, all reportedly by militant Sunni Muslims who say Iran, a country of mostly Shiite Muslims, is financing radical Shiite groups in Pakistan.

Iran has denied the charge.

Fellow workers said the two Iranians were taking a break when a motorcycle, followed by a taxi, pulled up and several men opened fire.

``I saw three men come up to them and then suddenly I heard gunfire,″ said Mir Mohammed, a Pakistani laborer. ``We thought it was a tire puncture, but then I looked and they were lying in blood.″

Other people in the area said there was more than one motorcycle involved in the shooting.

Both men identified as Adeeb Zada, 40, and Habib Zada, 32, apparently no relation, were employed by an Iranian construction firm that had been in Pakistan for the past one and a half years building the 3,000-meter (9,900-foot) overpass.

There were 30 Pakistanis and five Iranians working on the overpass at the time of the shooting, said Mohammed.

``It is a sad and tragic incident,″ said Hason Farhanzada, the Iranian Consul-General in Karachi. ``It was an act of terrorism.″

Farhanzada refused to speculate who may have been behind the killings.

That, he said, was for the Pakistan government to determine and to arrest the culprits.

``The government is responsible for the security of all foreigners,″ he said.

Iranian diplomats from the Iranian Cultural Center in Karachi came to the Jinnah Hospital where the bodies had been taken.

Several witnesses said they cried when they were shown the bodies.

In recent months the Pakistan government has arrested hundreds of militant Sunni and Shiite Muslims in an attempt to curb the religiously motivated bloodletting.

Twenty-eight Shiite Muslims were gunned down last month in the eastern Punjab capital of Lahore as they prayed at a graveyard. No one has been charged in connection with that killing, although dozens of people have been arrested.

In the last year more than 300 people have been killed in religiously motivated violence.

Pakistan, a poor country of 140 million people, is a majority Sunni Muslim nation, where most people hold no grudge against their Shiite brethren.

But in the past decade several militant groups belonging to both sects have sprung up and successive governments in Pakistan have been unable to curb their violence.

Last year five Iranian Air Force technicians were shot and killed in Rawalpindi, which neighbors the federal capital of Islamabad. An Iranian diplomat at the Iranian cultural center in Multan in eastern Punjab province was killed and two Iranian brothers who owned a bakery in Karachi were gunned down.

All the killings were religiously motivated, according to police.

Three Sunni Muslim militants have been arrested in connection with thye killing of the five Iranian Air Force technicians.

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