Monday, November 19, 2012

3 killed, 23 injured as blast reported near Shia mosque in Karachi

KARACHI: A powerful bomb went off near an Imambargah in the Abbas Town neighbourhood of the city Sunday evening, killing three people and injuring over a dozen.

The bomb was planted on a motorcycle, which was parked at a dairy shop located at a stone’s throw from Jamia Masjid-o-Imambargah Mustafa, according to witnesses and police.

“The motorcycle was parked by a young man who bought something from the dairy shop and walked away, leaving the two-wheeler behind,” one witness told The Express Tribune.

The dairy shop, a nearby beauty parlour and a delivery Suzuki pickup bore the brunt of the explosion.

The bomb weighed around five kilograms and it was set off with a remote-control, Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) officials said, adding that ball bearings were used in the device to inflict maximum casualties.

Inspector General Police (IGP) Sindh Fayyaz Leghari confirmed three fatalities in the blast. Two of the victims – identified as Sajid Hussain and Azhar Hussain – died on the spot while the third expired on way to a hospital.

Sources put the number of injured people at 15. And a spokesperson for Rangers said several paramilitary troops guarding the Imambargah were among the injured.

DIG District East Shahid Hayat said the Imambargah had three security barriers, manned by paramilitary Rangers. This prevented the attacker from approaching the building, he added. A statement issued by the Rangers endorsed DIG Hayat.

Soon after the blast, irate community members gathered at the site to protest the bombing. They also prevented the authorities from inspecting the site. Some of the protesters also fired gunshots into the air to vent their anger. The resulting confusion led to a brief clash between protesters and paramilitary soldiers. A Rangers official and a protester were allegedly injured in the melee.

Several Shia community leaders rushed to the site to placate the situation. Speaking on the occasion, Allama Nasir Abbas termed the bombing a conspiracy by a “third force” to create differences between Shia and Sunni communities.  He appealed to his community members to show restraint.

In the same breath, however, he hit out at the government and law enforcement agencies saying that the bomb attack proved they had failed to provide security to Karachi’s residents.

But AIG Iqbal Mehmood said that the attacker could not get to his target due to the security arrangements put in place by the authorities. He added that the security agencies had prior reports about the threats terror attacks. All petrol and CNG stations in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood and nearby areas, especially those dominated by the Shia community, have been closed after the blast.

Police officials learnt that the motorcycle used in the attack was registered in the name of one Naeem. Police have reportedly raided Naeem’s residence. However, details of the raid were not available till late in the night.

Without naming any group, police officials said the attack might have been masterminded by banned outfits. IGP Leghari has constituted a four-member team to investigate the blast.

Abbas Town is among the areas declared sensitive by the police during Muharram. Jamia Masjid-o-Imambargah Mustafa is situated near the residence of prominent Shia cleric Allama Hasan Turabi, who was killed in a suicide attack in 2006.

Edited by Zeeshan Ahmad
Published in The Express Tribune,
November 19th, 2012.
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