Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi was brought to a standstill yesterday after a devastating bomb attack on two four-storey apartment buildings and surrounding shops in the mostly Shi’ite-populated suburb of Abbas Town killed 45 and injured 150 people.
According to a local news channel, the blast left two apartment buildings, dozens of shops, and a couple of nearby bank branches in ruins in the mostly Shi’ite-populated suburb of Abbas Town, as worshipers were leaving local mosques in the evening.
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“So powerful was the explosion that the facades of several apartments facing the site of blast were blown off the buildings. Windowpanes of most of the surrounding buildings turned into smithereens. Even some doors came off the hinges,” said the local Police.
“I saw people burning to death and crying with pain. I saw children lying in pools of their own blood and women running around shouting for their children and loved ones.” said a resident of the blast site, Abbas Town.
Violence escalated today in the capital city when mourners buried some victims of the bombing. Reports have it that at least two people were killed and several others wounded as clashes broke out in the city’s Sohrab Goth area, after armed men opened fired on mourners returning from the funeral procession.
Local news sources reported that participants of the funeral procession came under heavy fire near a highly populated suburb area on a major super highway.
Although Sunni sectarian militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has indirectly claimed responsibility for the bombing in Karachi, it is believed that external factors are backing these attacks on the country’s capital and its heavily populated Shi’ite areas.
While the central government is set to dissolve Pakistan’s parliament on March 16 and is also on its way to appointing a caretaker government before mid-May general elections, the current wave of violence has stirred doubts over the scehduled occurrence of general elections this year.
“The unfortunate reality is things could take a turn for the worse as tension increases ahead of the approaching general elections,” The News wrote in an editorial yesterday. “The risk of violence, especially in Karachi, is very real.”
Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said Monday that a larger “global conspiracy” is being fueled up with the fresh incidents of violence between Shia and Sunni sects in Pakistan.
Local analysts said Karachi has been plagued by sectarian, ethnic and political tensions, which could definitely delay the elections.
It was the deadliest bombing in Pakistan’s largest city since at least 43 people died in an attack on Shia worshippers in December 2009.