At least 13 people have been killed near Pakistan’s Red Mosque, in what authorities say was a suicide bomb attack targeting policemen. The blast ripped through a restaurant in which riot police were on a break just half a kilometre from the mosque complex. Around 50 people were injured.
Earlier the police had been involved in clashes with radical students of the mosque in the capital, Islamabad.
The Red Mosque was beseiged and then taken by storm by the army just two weeks ago. The operation, which sought to oust radical clerics who wanted to impose a strict Taliban-style regime, claimed over a hundred lives.
President Pervez Musharraf’s government then appointed a new imam to lead Friday’s prayers. But he was rapidly hounded out by radical students, who called for the former pro-Taliban imam to be reinstated.
In the two weeks since the siege, up to 200 people have been killed in a number of suicide attacks, and officials say they cannot rule out further bombings.
There was hope that Thursday’s re-opening of the Red Mosque would calm local anger.
The bullet-ridden walls had been swiftly repaired and painted in cream and white. But followers immediately set about restoring them to their original colour.