Tags: Suicide | Bombing | Kills | Pakistan

Suicide Bombing Kills 15 in Pakistan

Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM

Provincial Police Chief Syed Kamal Shah said 34 people, including 12 French, were also injured in the blast. The female victim was passing by the bus as the explosion occurred, he said.

The bomb exploded around 8 a.m. near a Pakistan navy bus waiting outside the Karachi Sheraton hotel for French naval technicians staying there.

Police said the unidentified bomber parked his car alongside the bus while the French nationals were boarding the bus and activated the bomb.

"The bomb tore through the bus and damaged nearby buildings," said the city Police Chief Asad Jehangir. "The blast was so powerful that it scattered the bodies all over the area."

The French Embassy in Pakistan confirmed that nine French nationals were killed in the blast. A French company -- Direction de la Construction Naval -- has some 80 staff members in Karachi working on a submarine project of the Pakistan navy.

The navy's bus had come to collect the technicians from the Sheraton hotel where they were staying.

"It was a car bomb explosion, but we do not know whether the bomber was a Pakistani or a foreigner," said Shah.

He said so far no group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but police have found the picture of a man near the bus and were looking for him. The picture shows a man and a child in traditional Pakistani clothes.

Other sources in the Karachi police told United Press International that they would also investigate the possibility of al-Qaeda involvement.

"The violence in Karachi has its own pattern," said a police investigator. "The terrorists usually hit their targets from a distance and try to escape after carrying out the attack. The suicide bombing is something new.

"It has a Middle Eastern touch."

Headed by the suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda is believed to have hundreds of devoted Arab volunteers who, the local police say, are familiar with suicide bombings.

With a population of more than 13 million, Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and also the most violent. Hundreds of people have been killed here in ethnic and sectarian violence during the past three years.

An early report said those killed were German naval cadets, visiting Pakistan.

Shah said the two Pakistanis killed in the blast were apparently the driver and conductor of the bus that was to carry the victims to the Karachi harbor.

"The blast also damaged a portion of the Karachi Sheraton hotel and shattered almost all the windows," said a member of the New Zealand cricket team, which is also staying there.

Although no member of the team was injured, New Zealand canceled the tour and recalled its team.

"We are now making arrangements for the team to return home as soon as possible," New Zealand cricket chief Martin Snedden told reporters in Wellington.

Although all the injured have been taken to hospitals, police have cordoned off the area around the hotel to collect evidence.

U.S. and other Western embassies recently warned their nationals to use caution while visiting Pakistan because of threats from Islamic extremists opposed to President Pervez Musharraf's policies.

Musharraf angered the militants by dumping Pakistan's Taliban allies after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States and joining the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

He also banned five extremist Muslim groups in January, causing a string of terrorist attacks across the country. At least five people, including a U.S. diplomat's wife and daughter, were killed in March when terrorists hurled grenades inside a church in the capital, Islamabad during a Sunday service.

Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped in Karachi in January and later killed by Islamic militants demanding the release of Pakistani prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Tuesday's blast came a day after unidentified gunmen killed a prominent religious scholar in the central city of Lahore.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Provincial Police Chief Syed Kamal Shah said 34 people, including 12 French, were also injured in the blast. The female victim was passing by the bus as the explosion occurred, he said. The bomb exploded around 8 a.m. near a Pakistan navy bus waiting outside the Karachi...
Suicide,Bombing,Kills,Pakistan
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2002-00-08
Wednesday, 08 May 2002 12:00 AM
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