Karachi: At least 12 people, including two children, were killed and about 40 others injured when two blasts ripped through a Shia-dominated area of the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Sunday, witnesses and officials said.
The first blast occurred outside an imambargah (Shia prayer hall) in Abbas Town at about 7 pm as people were leaving after prayers. The second explosion, which was less powerful, went off in the same area within ten minutes, witnesses said.
Officials at Patel Hospital said they had received eight bodies, including one that was in pieces. Four more bodies were received at Jinnah Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Two children and a woman were among the dead. About 40 injured people, including women and children, were taken to nearby hospitals.
Reports said the first blast was caused by explosives hidden in a car that was parked near the entrance of Abbas Town. Residents of Karachi said the explosion was heard from 10 km away. The blasts caused a power outage and triggered panic in Abbas Town, which has a sizeable Shia population. The explosions destroyed the fa ade of two apartment blocks and damaged about 20 shops and several cars.
Several fires broke out in the apartment blocks. Footage on television showed huge flames leaping into the night sky. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed a string of recent attacks on Shias in other parts of Pakistan, including the southwestern city of Quetta. Abbas Town has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past too.
On November 18, three persons were killed and more than 20 injured when a bomb went off outside an imambargah in the area. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who was in Karachi, condemned the blasts and ordered an inquiry into the incident. He said those "targeting innocent civilians are serving the interests of anti-state and anti-social elements".