Suspected suicide bomb leaves 14 dead in mosque
Saturday, May 8, 2004
KARACHI, Pakistan -- A suspected suicide bomb shattered Friday prayers at a crowded mosque, killing at least 14 people and wounding over 200 -- the second deadly attack on minority Shiite Muslims in Pakistan in two months. Hundreds of Shiite youths began burning cars, gas pumps and a government office after the explosion, which left walls scarred by shrapnel and carpets soaked in blood. Police urged Shiite leaders to help quell the unrest in Pakistan's largest city. The attack occurred shortly after 1 p.m. at a mosque inside a government-run religious school. There was no word on the motive for the attack, which President Gen. Pervez Musharraf called a "heinous act of terrorism."
The Sindh Madrassah tul Islam school, for students ages 4 to 18, has separate mosques for Sunni and Shiite Muslim worshippers. Witnesses said the school had let out early, as it does on Fridays. Most victims were adults who came to the mosque for prayers.
Tariq Jamin, deputy inspector-general of Karachi police, said 14 people were killed. Dr. Razar Ali said most of the dead and 215 wounded were brought to the Civil Hospital.
Sadir Durrani, a police explosives expert, said he had found no timing or radio devices, indicating the blast was likely caused by a suicide bomber.
Chief investigator Manzoor Mughal said no crater was found at the blast point, suggesting a person was carrying the bomb. "We are still investigating, but it seems it was a suicide bombing," he said.
Several survivors described a man in a black robe and black turban who was sitting near the column where the bomb exploded.
"I was inside the mosque for Friday prayers when a bomb exploded with a huge bang," said Kalb e-Abbas, 23. "Something hit my arm and I saw blood all over my body."
E-Abbas said he heard cries all around him as he stumbled from the building.
Aftab Sheikh, who is responsible for law and order in Sindh province, blamed anti-state elements for the explosion but would not elaborate. Karachi is home to several radical Islamic groups.
"Today's bomb attack was carried out by those people who were behind other terrorist attacks in Karachi," Sheikh said.
Rescue officials piled bloodstained carpets outside the mosque. Television footage from inside the Civil Hospital showed victims lying on the floor, bleeding and dazed, as doctors and nurses hurried among them.
Muslim clerics used mosque loudspeakers throughout the city to appeal for blood donations.
The provincial government announced it would give $1,750 compensation to families of the dead and $525 to each of the injured.
About 80 percent of Pakistan's 150 million people are Sunni, and the rest Shiite. Most live together in peace, but radical groups on both sides are responsible for frequent deadly attacks.
In March, Sunni radicals attacked a procession in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing more than 40 people and wounding 150. Another bomb attack in Quetta wounded two people Friday, a day before an international investment conference there.
Karachi, Pakistan's business hub, has been hit by frequent acts of terrorism.
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Karachi in January 2002. Later that year, a suicide attack outside a Karachi hotel killed 11 French engineers, and a suicide bombing killed 14 Pakistanis outside the U.S. Consulate. Islamic militants were blamed for both bombings.