Zardari, Gilani condemn Karachi bombings, urge calm
Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday condemned the twin blasts in Karachi that killed at least 25 people and injured over 100.
Gilani appealed for calm in the politically volatile city, where violence has killed up to 85 party activists so far this year and the US embassy in Islamabad condemned the "terrorist attacks".
In separate messages, Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari described the attack as heinous, adding the perpetrators need to be given exemplary punishment.
In the meantime, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has described the attacks as ‘sectarian violence’.
Malik said he has formed a joint team of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the bombing that killed scores of innocent people on the occasion of ‘chehallum.’
He also ruled out reports which suggested that the blasts were suicide attacks.
Meanwhile, people in Karachi observed an announced strike in the city on Saturday to mourn the death of people in the twin bomb blasts.
All schools and colleges remained closed and vehicles remained off the road. Streets and market places wore a deserted look, as people chose to remain inside their house.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah also condemned the bomb blasts near Nursery and at Jinnah Hospital.
Suicide bombers rammed into a bus in Karachi on Friday then hit a hospital where casualties were rushed for treatment, killing 25 people in the second assault on Shi’ites in the Pakistani city in weeks.
The attacks in a city largely isolated from Islamist violence highlighted the instability in Pakistan, which is on the frontline of the US war on al Qaeda and where militants have killed more than 3,000 people since 2007.
Women and children were among the 12 people killed when a suicide attacker rammed a motorbike bomb into a bus carrying Shi’ites on one of Karachi`s busiest roads, gutting the bus and sending glass flying, officials and witnesses said.
A second bomber killed 13 people, damaging ambulances and the entrance to the casualty department at Jinnah Hospital, where the victims of the first attack were being treated and anxious relatives were gathering.
Sectarian violence periodically flares between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, who account for about 20 percent of Pakistan`s 167-million-strong population. Such violence has killed more than 4,000 people since the late 1980s.
Police said they defused a third bomb rigged inside a television and left in the hospital car park.
Witnesses and officials said the bus was packed with Shi’ite Muslims heading to a religious procession to mark the last day of the holy month of Muharram in Karachi, a southern port city of 16 million people on the Arabian sea.
Security had been stepped up in Karachi as a wave of political violence killed at least 37 activists from rival parties in the local government in the last five days, following 48 similar killings last month.
(With Agencies’ inputs)