Friday blast again rocks Karachi. 17 killed, 100 injured, mosque badly damaged. Arrest of banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militants may cause revenge.

Bomb and gun attack rocks Karachi: Tehrik-i-Taliban claims responsibility

Friday 12th November 2010 | Zilhaj 5, 1431 

KARACHI: At least 17 people were killed and over 100 injured in a massive bombing that was preceded by a shootout and grenade attack at the Crime Investigation Department (CID) offices in Civil Lines on Thursday night.

Among the dead was a woman from an adjoining neighbourhood, policemen posted in the CID and some personnel of the Frontier Constabulary deployed at a security post at the entrance of the offices located on the Beaumont Road.

The blast took place at around 8.20pm in what is supposed to be a most secure area of the city, at a walking distance from the Chief Minister’s House and two five-star hotels located on the Club Road.

Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, who was among the first to reach the scene, said that the blast bore resemblance to Islamabad’s Marriott hotel blast of 2008.

Soon after the blast, the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility.

“Five or six attackers took out the guards present at the main entrance of the CID offices. One of them went inside the raised barrier and opened the gate. Meanwhile, policemen who were in the building opened retaliatory fire and the attackers rammed an explosives-laden truck of medium size into the second gate of the building,” a CID official told Dawn.

The structure, especially residential quarters located across the road and around the CID offices, were also razed to the ground by the impact of the blast, killing and wounding many residents.

The blast left a crater over 15 feet deep and 30 feet across.

“I ran for safety inside the offices after hearing what appeared to be a shootout between two sides. It lasted 10 to 15 minutes, during which a small explosion also took place, and was followed by a massive blast”, said Abdul Razzaq, a labourer who was doing a paint job at the home of SP Naeem Shaikh, which caved in after the explosion.

A mosque located inside the premises of the offices was badly damaged.

An official of the Special Investigation Group (SIG) said the quantity of explosives used in the blast was less than that used in the blast in Islamabad on Sept 20, 2008, but more than the Lahore blast of May 27 last year.

He estimated about 1,000kgs of explosives were packed into the truck.

He said the vehicle used in the attack could carry a maximum of 2,000kgs of load, but the explosives must have been camouflaged.

SSP Raja Umar Khattab, citing initial information, said the attackers had used a Shezore pick-up.

He said there was no restriction on movement of such truck at the place because a multi-storey building was being constructed in front of the CID offices.

A CID officer, who didn’t want to be named, said a lock-up had been damaged, but there was no suspect in it at the time.

Saddar SSP Javed Akbar Riaz told Dawn that the attackers might have used the M.T. Khan Road and turned towards the Beaumont Road leading to the CID offices, to avoid the PIDC traffic signal.

CCTV footage from cameras installed at the traffic intersection was being analysed to spot any suspect vehicle, the officer said.

Investigators also found a chassis number, of a pick-up, from the scene. Two bodies were recovered from the debris several hours after the blast when heavy machinery was employed.

The shockwave created by the explosion was so severe that the Met Office recorded a jolt measuring 1.3 on the Richter scale at 8.20pm.

Only a day earlier, the CID had disclosed the arrest of seven militants belonging to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

“The men were involved in the murder of several Shia doctors in the city,” SSP Aslam Khan told journalists.

Citing initial interrogation of the suspects, he said they were planning to carry out bombings on a procession of the community in the city.

Karachi has seen a number of attacks since a Muharram procession was bombed on Dec 28 last year.

Another team of the CID police had also arrested a wanted militant in the city. Iqbal Khan is said to hail from Bajaur, where he was affiliated with the TTP.

Police officials said he was involved in the killings of security personnel and the bombing of army convoys in the tribal region.

Karachi blast highlights dangers for police investigator

Friday 12th November 2010 | Zilhaj 5, 1431

KARACHI: Staring blankly at what used to be his office, the plain-clothed police investigator recalled how he had worked long hours there trying to track down some of Pakistan’s most dangerous militants.

The office was flattened in a suspected Pakistani Taliban suicide car bombing on Thursday at the compound of the Crime Investigation Department (CID), which focuses on apprehending militants who are bent on toppling Pakistan’s U.S.-backed government.

“I arrested members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” said the investigator, who looked lost, his AK-47 rifle slung over his shoulder.

LeJ is one of Pakistan’s most violent anti-Shi’ite groups and part of an al Qaeda-linked nexus of militants. They include the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 15 people and wounded 100, and threatened more bloodshed.

The explosion left a crater about 40 feet (12 metres) across and 12 feet (four metres) deep in front of the gutted building in Pakistan’s financial capital and biggest city, where senior militants were held and interrogated.

The police investigator pointed out one of the rooms which held militants. It was reduced to broken concrete slabs and twisted metal.

Parts of nearby buildings collapsed in the attack, which took place metres from the provincial chief minister’s house in a central district known as the “red zone” because of its high security status. The U.S. Consulate and five-star hotels are nearby.

A security guard knelt in the rubble and sifted through a pile of bullet casings. Police said the militants first opened fire, as they sometimes do during such attacks.

Official documents were strewn across the rubble.

Security officers and rescue workers tried to steady themselves over shaky chunks of cement as they searched furiously for possible survivors. A pair of sandals raised hope, but to no avail.

A few feet away a group of security officers grunted as they pushed away a huge block of cement. “Allah-u-Akbar” (“God is Great”), they shouted, hopeful they had found a survivor.

But a few minutes later the body of a paramilitary soldier, his face covered in dust, was carried away on a stretcher. – Reuters

Read this also : Striking at Karachi’s soul

Read more here : Lashkar-i-Jhangvi behind Karachi attack: Malik

Watch the catastrophe : Karachi: The morning after

 Courtesy : Dawn, Reuters & Agencies.

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