One killed as bomb in motorcycle explodes in Pakistani city

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

KARACHI, Pakistan -- A bomb on a motorcycle exploded Monday outside the state-oil company in the southern port city of Karachi, killing a parking lot attendant and injuring at least seven other people.

The blast, which could be heard for miles, shattered glass and overturned motorcycles at the Pakistan State Oil company, witnesses and police said.

The explosion was near the home of Farooq Awan, head of anti-terrorism police in the southern port city. He was not injured and his house was not seriously damaged.

Deputy police chief Gul Hameed Samoo identified the dead man as Karim Dad, 22. Officials said he was on or near the motorcycle when it exploded.

A surveillance camera showed a young man in blue jeans and purple shirt parking the motorcycle and walking away shortly before the blast, said Qamar Zaman, a police official.

At least two motorcycles destroyed in the blast -- including the one that may have contained the bomb -- had engine serial numbers removed, a practice often intended to disguise the owner of a vehicle used for terrorism, Samoo told The Associated Press.

A senior official at Pakistan State Oil, Tariq Kirmani, told reporters he did not think his company was the target.

Police chief Syed Kamal Shah said the bomb might have been aimed at anti-terrorism officials.

"Maybe it is a message to us from the terrorists," Shah said. "Surely, it is an act of terrorism."

Glossy marble tiles along the exterior wall of the oil company building were cracked by the impact of the blast.

"I was blown away. I landed on a footpath. There was smoke all around. I lost consciousness," said Afzal Sharif, a cleaner in a shopping center across the road from the building. He was hospitalized with head injuries caused by flying glass shards.

Oil company officials said the blast smashed windows and forced an evacuation of the building, but that workers later returned. It also shattered windows at several nearby buildings.

Security forces set up road blocks at the scene.

Karachi, Pakistani's largest city, has been the scene of several bombings and other attacks in recent months. Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in the war on terror.

In May, a suicide car bomb outside the Sheraton Hotel killed 11 French engineers and two nearby Pakistanis. The engineers were helping Pakistan's navy build a submarine.

In June, a car bomb detonated outside the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 Pakistanis and injuring 50 others. Suspected Islamic extremists were arrested in both bombings.

Police have launched a crackdown on Islamic groups, arresting dozens of people since allying with Washington in the war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Police have also arrested several al-Qaida suspects in the city, most notably Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged planner of the Sept. 11 attacks who was apprehended in September 2002.

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