TENDER MERCIES OF ALLAH IN PAKISTAN
keep hearing from Muslims about how fair and decent Muslims treat each other.
January, 17, 1997-- LAHORE, Pakistan - About 500 Sunni Muslim militants, angered over a bombing that killed their leader, set fire to an Iranian cultural center Sunday and accused Tehran of inciting Pakistan's Shiite Muslims to violence.
The fire gutted the colonial-style building in this eastern provincial capital, witnesses said. There were no injuries.
The Sunnis demanded that Pakistan sever ties with neighboring Iran and expel all Iranian diplomats. Most Iranians are Shiite Muslims, while the majority of Pakistan's 130 million people are Sunni Muslims.
The Iranian Embassy in Islamabad, the capital, called the arson attack an act of "terrorism."
Members of the Sunni militant group Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet blame rival Shiites for a bomb that killed their leader, Zia-ur Rehman, and 24 other people Saturday.
More than 100 people were injured in the blast outside the Lahore Sessions Court. Police said 11 pounds of explosive material were planted in a motorcycle and set off
by remote control. No one has claimed responsibility.
Later Sunday, more than 8,000 Sunni activists shouted "Down With Iran" at a funeral for Mr. Rehman in his hometown of Jhang, 125 miles southwest of Lahore.
The mourners wailed and chanted when Mr. Rehman's body, wrapped in a white shroud and covered with rose petals, was brought into a dusty stadium.
Mr. Rehman and two other Sunni activists killed in the bombing were buried in Jhang, next to the founders of their political movement.
Another Sunni leader, Azim Tariq, was seriously wounded in the explosion, which went off as he and Mr. Rehman were arriving at the courthouse for their trial on charges in the deaths of Shiite Muslims.
In a message from his hospital bed, Mr. Tariq urged his followers to restrain themselves from violence.
Police worried about attacks against minority Shiites have tightened security across Pakistan.
Mr. Tariq and Mr. Rehman were candidates in next month's general elections. In the wake of the bombing, authorities have postponed elections in Mr. Rehman's central Punjab district.
They said they feared an outbreak of violence in the Jhang area because at least two of the candidates in the region are prominent Shiites.
Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet is a small group, but its members are well-armed and militant. They believe Shiites should be declared non-Muslims.
The Sunni-Shiite rivalry dates back to the origins of Islam, when the two groups argued over the rightful successor of Islam's prophet, Mohammed.