Islamabad: Pakistani investigators believe a faction of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi carried out the bomb attack in a Shia-domiated neighbourhood of Karachi that killed 48 people, according to a media report on Wednesday.
Though no group claimed the March 3 bombing in Abbas Town area of Karachi, investigating agencies are certain that the assault was the work of a faction of the LeJ led by Asif Chotoo.
The attack was similar to two other bombings in Shia areas of Quetta on January 10 and February 16 that killed nearly 200 people.
Investigators are not sure if an explosives-laden vehicle used in the bombing at Abbas Town was rammed into apartment blocks by a suicide bomber or a timed device was used to detonate over 150 kg of explosives laced with ball bearings, The News reported.
None of the two major anti-Shia terror groups active in Karachi - the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the LeJ - has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan has refuted his group`s involvement in the Karachi blast.
The powerful blast in Abbas Town killed 48 people, including women and children, and injured nearly 200.
The explosion destroyed over 150 flats and triggered fires in an apartment block.
Investigators have "reliable evidence" to suggest the attack was carried out by the LeJ.
Asked why no one from the LeJ had claimed the attack, an unnamed security official said the group had apparently changed its strategy because claiming responsibility for the attacks in Quetta had led to LeJ chief Malik Mohammad Ishaq being detained for a month.
"Had the LeJ claimed the Abbas Town attack as well just like the Quetta attacks, it would have created bigger problems not only for Malik Ishaq but also for his aides in the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat which was previously known as Sipah-e- Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)," the official was quoted as saying.
Ishaq is also vice president of the ASWJ, which is headed by Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the former chief of the SSP.
According to investigators, there are seven factions of the LeJ active in Karachi - Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Almi, Asif Chotoo group, Akram Lahori group, Naeem Bukhari group, Qari Zafar group, Qari Shakeel group and Farooq Bengali group.
Most of these groups have links to Al Qaeda and Taliban and are allegedly being controlled by Ishaq.
While targeting law enforcement agencies and Shias in Karachi, the seven factions coordinate with three Taliban factions active in Karachi - the Waliur Rehman group of South Waziristan, Badr Mansoor group of North Waziristan and Mullah Fazlullah group of Swat.
Asif Chotoo became the chief operational commander of the LeJ following the June 17, 2002 arrest from Karachi of Akram Lahori. Three years later, Chotoo was arrested by the security agencies in September 2005 while travelling to Lahore from Rawalpindi.
Chotoo became the most wanted LeJ operative after the 1997 killing of five Iranian Air Force cadets who were being trained in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Though Chotoo has been behind bars for many years, his faction of the LeJ is very active in Karachi.
The LeJ carried out over 50 terrorist attacks across Karachi in 2012, mostly targeting Shias.