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One dead and 45 injured as blasts rock Karachi

It is believed that seven blasts took place while police chief Waseem Ahmad says that there were six confirmed bomb explosions in parts of North and West Karachi.
Hindustan Times | By Kamal Siddiqi and Agencies, Karachi
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2008 10:39 PM IST

Bomb blasts rocked Karachi on Monday, even as 20 people, killed in Sunday’s blast in Islamabad, were being buried.

One person was feared dead and 45 injured, some of them critically, in a series of low-intensity bomb blasts that shook parts of Karachi on Monday evening. It is believed that seven blasts took place while police chief Waseem Ahmad said that there were six confirmed bomb explosions in parts of North and West Karachi.

The victims were all civilians and there were some children who were also injured in the blasts, police said. Eyewitnesses said that one blast took place in a parked car while it could not be determined what the source of the other blasts was.

Blasts were reported from Qasba, Orangi, North Karachi, Banaras Chowk and Pak Colony areas, almost all lower and middle income localities of the city.

Faisal Sabzawari of the MQM, the city’s main political party, said that these blasts were an indication that militants wanted to challenge the authority of the government and give them a message. “We condemn these blasts. They are an indication of how much religious militants have infiltrated into Karachi,” he said. The MQM has been warning over what it calls the “increased Talibanisation of Karachi”.

The blasts spread panic all over the city and emergency was declared at all major hospitals. The provincial government said Karachi was being placed on red alert on fears that more attacks may be imminent.

Most cities in Pakistan had been put on red alert following the Islamabad bombing. There had been reports that suicide bombers would attack another city, possibly Lahore or Karachi. Militant leader Baitullah Mehsud had threatened revenge attacks after a US bombing on the Pakistan-Afghan border, which resulted in heavy civilian casualties.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had termed Sunday’s attack “shameful”. “The country will not be defeated by extremists,” said Gilani.

The leader of Pakistan’s ruling party Asif Ali Zardari said the people behind the attack were trying to create chaos and his government would do everything to stop them. “Pakistan Peoples’ Party realises the grave threat that such terrorist activities pose to the country and the PPP government will do everything possible to check the activities of such elements and those responsible will be brought to justice,” he said.

The coalition partners, however, pointed fingers towards wrong policies of the government. “We were not consulted when the Gilani government decided to break the agreement with the militants and ordered a military operation,” said Raja Zafrul Haq, a senior member of the PML-N. Zafrul said the suicide attack was “a direct result of the military operation in the NWFP and was expected”.

Most Pakistanis have condemned the attack and have said that the government needed to review its policies. “We cannot keep on following the US line,” said Rana Jawaid, a senior PML-N leader, adding that when Pakistan adopted its own policy on the war on terror earlier this year, the terror attacks had come down significantly.

Reacting to the allegations, Information minister Sherry Rehman has said “it is incorrect to say that the government kept its allies in the dark”. “All of our coalition partners were consulted and it is not true that this was done in isolation,” said Sherry.

Sunday’s blast happened several hundred metres from Lal Masjid, shortly after a tightly guarded meeting of Islamists there had ended.

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