WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday strongly condemned a wave of deadly militant attacks against religious minorities in Pakistan.
"To target innocent civilians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at an already difficult time as the country is working hard to recover from terrible flooding caused by monsoons makes these acts even more reprehensible," the White House said.
"In line with the deepening partnership between our two nations, the United States government continues to assist and work closely with the government of Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild and recover, and we will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan as they face these challenging times," the White House said.
Earlier, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States strongly condemned "the recent barbaric attacks on religious processions in Lahore and Quetta and on a place of worship in Mardan, near Peshawar."
At least 53 people were killed and 197 wounded on Friday in a suicide bombing targeting a Shiite Muslim rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, police said.
Earlier, at least one man was killed and four wounded Friday when a suicide bomber blew himself up after being apprehended by police outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect in the city of Mardan in northwest Pakistan, police said.
In the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, three suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mourning procession made up of thousands of people at the moment of the breaking of the fast in the holy month of Ramadan. The attacks left 31 people dead.
Shiite Muslims are a minority in Pakistan, accounting for around a fifth of the country's 160 million population, which is dominated by Sunnis.
"Our sympathies are with the victims and their families, and all those affected by these cruel acts of hatred," Crowley said.
Pakistan is already struggling to deal with massive flooding that has killed nearly 1,800 people and left an estimated eight million people reliant on aid handouts to survive.
The international community has pledged millions of dollars, with the United States alone committing 200 million dollars.
On Friday, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum authorizing the release of 33 million dollars from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund.
Obama said the money would be used "for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs... resulting from recent devastating flooding in Pakistan."
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