LAHORE, Pakistan — Sixteen people have died in Pakistan after drinking cough syrup suspected of being toxic, police said Monday after three additional victims expired in hospital.
All those affected by the syrup were drug addicts who apparently drank it to get high, said police officer Multan Khan.
Khan said they died at various hospitals in the eastern city of Lahore over the past three days. Two people are still being treated at the city's main hospital.
Police arrested the owners of three drug stores where the cough syrup was sold and sent a sample for analysis to determine whether it was toxic, Khan added.
Elsewhere in the country, a bomb hidden in a cement construction block exploded in the southern city of Karachi, killing one person, said senior police officer Farooq Awan. Four other people were wounded, he said.
The bomb contained about 2 pounds of explosives and was detonated by a mobile phone, said Awan.
Pakistan suspended mobile phone service throughout most of the country on Saturday and Sunday to prevent attacks against Shiite Muslims during a major religious commemoration.
Despite the ban, a pair of bombings over the weekend killed at least 13 people.
Awan, the police officer, said he suspected the bomb in Karachi was meant to target Shiites over the weekend, but militants were not able to detonate it at the time because of the mobile phone ban.
Shiites are currently observing the holy month of Muharram. Pakistani Shiites on Sunday marked Ashoura, the most important day of the month.
Pakistan has a long history of Sunni Muslim extremists targeting Shiites, who they consider heretics.
Also Monday, police in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, found and defused a bomb planted underneath the car of one of Pakistan's most prominent TV anchors, Hamid Mir of Geo Television.
The bomb was made up of 1 pound of explosives stuffed in a tin can, said Islamabad police chief Bani Amin. It was placed in a bag and attached to the bottom of Mir's car, said Amin.
One of Mir's neighbors noticed the bomb underneath the car after the TV anchor returned from a local market, and the police were notified, said Rana Jawad, a senior official at Geo TV.
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