Karachi mosque blast kills 15, wounds 125
A suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb in a crowded Shi'ite mosque in the business district of the Pakistani city of Karachi Friday, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 125, police said.
The mosque was packed for Friday afternoon prayers when it was shattered by the fourth and worst bomb attack in five days in Pakistan, a frontline state in the U.S.-led war on terror.
President Pervez Musharraf called the attack a "heinous act of terrorism" and ordered an immediate inquiry.
The mosque was badly damaged. Blood stained the floor and walls and pieces of flesh were scattered around.
It was just the latest attack on a Shi'ite mosque in Pakistan, which has been racked for decades by violence between the minority Islamic sect and militants in the Sunni majority.
Angry Shi'ites went on a rampage in central Karachi, pelting cars and shops with stones and setting fire to a state-run petrol station, several vehicles, a building and a police post near the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
Karachi police chief Tariq Jameel said 15 people were killed in the mosque bombing. Officials said another 125 were wounded.
"It appears to be a suicide attack," said provincial security adviser Aftab Sheikh. "The explosives were attached to the body of the bomber who was apparently in the third row of worshippers."
Worshipper Ali Abbas, his clothes smeared with blood, said he was in the third row when the bomb exploded and something hit him hard on the back.
"It was part of a body." he said. "There was chaos. All of us ran outside, jumping over the injured and human remains."
Rohena Hasan, a doctor at the state-run Civil Hospital said more than 20 people were in serious condition.
Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali vowed strict punishment of the perpetrators. "Those who committed this cold-blooded murder cannot be termed Muslims as Islam shuns violence," the official APP news agency quoted him as saying.
Shi'ites demanded protection for their community.
"We are at the mercy of terrorists who are getting bolder because they are not being punished," said Shi'ite cleric Hasan Turabi. "Now we have to defend ourselves."
The mosque is inside the compound of a historic school, the Sindh Madarsatul Islam (Sindh School of Islam), where Jinnah, received his early education.
More than 125 people have died in sectarian violence in Pakistan in less than a year, most of them Shi'ites.
ATTACKS RATTLE SOUTHWEST
In March, 44 people were killed and 150 wounded in an attack on a Shi'ite mosque in the southwestern city of Quetta that was blamed on Sunni militants.
Earlier Friday, three people were wounded in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province, when a small bomb exploded opposite a hotel due to host a weekend investment conference.
Jamali had been expected at the city's Serena Hotel on Saturday to chair the meeting. However, he canceled his plans to attend before the blast due to commitments in Islamabad, said Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
Police said the blast was caused by a small time-bomb attached to a bicycle. Baluchistan's chief minister, Jam Mir Mohammad Yusuf, called it an attempt to sabotage the meeting.
Baluchistan is one of Pakistan's poorest regions and has been frequently troubled by Islamic militancy and tribal violence.
Thursday, another small bomb exploded outside the ticket office of Quetta railway station, but caused no injuries.
Monday, a car bomb exploded in the fishing town of Gawadar in the far south of Baluchistan, killing three Chinese technicians working on a project to build an major port.