Twin blasts rock Karachi

Karachi (Dawn/ANN) - Two explosions have occurred near Karachi's Abul Hassan Isphahani Road and at least 47 people have been killed and 135 others injured as a result. The dead and injured have been rushed to local hospitals.

One explosion happened outside a Shia mosque in Abbas Town.

Police official Azhar Iqbal says a bomb exploded as people were leaving evening prayers, AP reported.

One of the blasts hit close to an area dominated by Shia Muslims, senior police official Ghulam Shabir Sheikh told AFP.

"Women and children were among the dead and injured," Fayaz Laghari, police chief of Sindh province told AFP.

A cloud of smoke was witnessed from the site of the incident. The blasts were heard from far distances.

Reports said that nearby flats have caught fire or have been destroyed due to the severity of the blasts. Several shops have also been damaged by the explosions.

"The explosion was so massive it jolted the entire area," said an eyewitness. "Two flats and nearby shops caught fire after the explosion and balconies of various buildings collapsed."

Another witness said women and children who were shopping nearby were wounded, Reuters reported.

"All of a sudden I heard a huge blast and we thought the building was going to collapse, it was like an earthquake," on witness told AFP from hospital. "The windows of my flat exploded towards me, something hit my head and knocked me unconscious. I opened my eyes in hospital and I am just relieved that my family survived."

Electricity in the area has gone down. Police and rangers have also cordoned off the site. Rescue services have been rushed to the area.

At least 150 kilograms of explosives material was used in the bombings, according to initial reports.

Condemnation of blasts

Political and religious leaders have strongly condemned the blasts in Abbas Town.

Pakistan's President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad have all condemned the blasts.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan and Sunni Tehrik chief Sarwat Ejaz Qadri have also issued condemnations.

President Zardari telephoned CM Sindh Qaim Ali Shah and announced compensation of 1.5 million Pakistani rupees (US$15,087) for relatives of the dead and 1 million rupees for the injured.

The president, along with PM Raja Pervez Ashraf, have called upon Interior Minister Rehman Malik to submit a report to them on the incident.

Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad has directed authorities to provide all necessary requirements for the injured.

The provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab have called for a day of mourning in aftermath of the blasts, while the Jafaria Alliance have called for a strike tomorrow in protest over the blasts.

The Muttahida Quami Movement and the Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslimeen parties have also called for a mourning period.

Shops and businesses in Karachi will also be shut tomorrow along with private schools.

TTP disassociates itself from blasts

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have disassociated themselves from the Abbas Town blasts.

Speaking to Dawn, TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan has said that his group was not involved in the incident.

Although he did not condemn the attack, he categorically stated that the TTP was not responsible.

*US$1=99.4 Pakistani rupees

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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