A car bomb destroyed a police investigation department in Karachi late Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 40 others, officials said. One government official said a group of militants first opened fire before detonating a bomb, comparing the explosion to a massive bombing that killed 60 people at the five-star Marriott hotel in Islamabad in September 2008.
The teeming city of 16 million is the country’s economic capital, home to its stock exchange and an Arabian Sea port where NATO supplies dock ready to be trucked overland to support the US-led war effort in Afghanistan.
“They came in a car. First they engaged police by opening fire. Then they hit the building with the car full of explosives,” said Zulfiqar Mirza, the interior minister of the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital.
“It was a huge blast, which created a big crater, a bit like the Islamabad Marriott hotel,” he added.
Witnesses and police said the building, which belonged to the police's Crime Investigation Department, collapsed trapping people under the rubble.
“Fifteen people have been killed and more than 30 injured,” said Sharmilla Farooqi, a spokeswoman for the Sindh government.
Police said initially that more than 25 people had been wounded, most of them policemen.
“The building has been completely destroyed. I can see a crater of 15 feet (three metres). Some houses were also badly damaged behind the building,” senior police official Tariq Razzaq Dharejo told AFP.
Local TV channel GEO broadcast footage of the site showing rescue workers ferrying people on stretchers into ambulances, dazed civilians stumbling in the street and a mass of twisted metal.