|Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)|
Qazi Jamil-ur-Rehman, deputy inspector general police of Dera Ismail Khan, a district lying some 300 km southwest of the country 's capital Islamabad, said four people were killed right on spot in the blast and two others later died at hospital.
The killed include two kids, he said, adding that four out of the 20 injured are in critical condition, indicating a possible further rise in the death toll.
The blast took place at about 9:55 a.m. local time when a bomb hidden under a roadside garbage heap in the suburban Thoya Fazil area of the district hit a small group of some 30 Shia Muslims passing by on the way to join a main procession to mark the 9th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar year.
The bomb was detonated by a remote control device, police said.
Bomb disposal squad officers said that the bomb contained an estimated eight to 10 kg of explosives placed inside a high pressure cooker and ball bearings were also used in the bomb.
The blast caused a great panic among the crowd, sending people flee in all directions, local media quoted eyewitnesses as saying.
All the injured have been shifted to the local district headquarters hospital. Some of the seriously wounded have been referred to a hospital in Multan city in central Punjab, with better medical facilities, hospital sources said
Following the blast, the army has been called in to maintain order in the district and a suspect has reportedly been arrested in the nearby area.
Both Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Ashraf condemned the attacked and called for the best possible medical treatment to the injured.
Saturday marks the eve of Ashura, an anniversary marking the death of the prophet's grandson Hussain Ibn-e-Ali who was killed some 1,300 years ago.
Muhrram is considered a very sensitive period in Pakistan. Many attacks on the Shia Muslims by extremist Sunnis have been reported in the country in the past.
Since the first day of Muhrram which fell upon Nov. 16, at least five major attacks on Shia Muslims have been reported in the country, which have killed over 38 people and wounded 121 others, according to Xinhua's tally.
On Wednesday night, a twin bomb attack hit a Shia mosque in the country's southern port city of Karachi, leaving three people dead and 13 injured. Hours late, a suicide bombing hit a Shia religious procession in Rawalpindi, a sister city of Islamabad, killing at least 24 people and wounding 63 others.
To avoid further attacks, the Pakistani government has ordered suspension of mobile services in 49 cities across the country starting from Friday to Sunday.
Militants and attackers often use mobile phones to coordinate their planned attacks, said Pakistani Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
By Misbah Saba Malik