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18 hurt in Pakistan mosque shootout over prayers

A shootout inside a mosque in southwestern Pakistan wounded 18 people in a dispute over who should lead prayers for one of Islam's most important holidays.

QUETTA, Pakistan // A shootout inside a mosque in southwestern Pakistan wounded 18 people today in a dispute over who should lead prayers for one of Islam's most important holidays, police said.

Followers of the two rival religious leaders pulled out weapons and started shooting this morning after arguing over which one should start the prayers at a small mosque in remote Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province, police official Javed Ahmed said. The district is about 900 kilometres southwest of Islamabad.

Many of the region's ethnic Pashtuns typically carry rifles in daily life.

Millions of other Pakistanis peacefully celebrated Eid al Adha today, joining Muslims the world over for the three-day festival, known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, that involves slaughter of sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son.

Pakistan kicked off the holiday a day later than many other countries because of local authorities' interpretation of when the new moon was sighted.

Celebrations were muted in some areas of Pakistan because of devastating floods that affected 20 million people, of whom 7 million remain homeless.

Most mosques also added additional security Wednesday to guard against attacks by the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. Earlier this month, at least 70 people died when a suicide bomber hit a mosque frequented by anti-Taliban elders and a grenade exploded at another place of worship in the country's northwest.

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