Karachi shuts down to mourn bomb victims

2009-12-29 11:05

PAKISTAN’S financial capital, Karachi, shut down today to mourn its

worst attack in two years and count the cost of rioting after a suicide bomber

killed 40 people at a Shiite Muslim procession yesterday.


The bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body, turning the

Shiites’ holiest day of Ashura into a bloodbath.

Within minutes furious mourners went on the rampage, throwing

stones at ambulances and torching cars and buildings.

The bombing and ensuing riots underscored the extent of the

volatility in Pakistan, where militant attacks have killed more than 2?760

people since July 2007 and which Washington has put on the frontline of its war

on Al-Qaeda.

Investigators retrieved the head and torso of the bomber and blamed

the Taliban, against which the military has waged a major operation near the

Afghan border, and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, another feared Islamist network.

“The explosion ripped his legs off but the upper part of his body

remained intact with his head. The bomber used 16kg of highly explosive material

in his attack,” said bomb disposal official Munir Shaikh.

The government announced a day of mourning, closing schools, shops

and offices, with streets eerily quiet and traffic on the roads thin.

Funeral prayers were heard at the Imambargah Shiite mosque close to

the scene of the attack.

Firefighters struggled throughout the night to extinguish a fire at

the nearby markets set ablaze by rioters, as stunned vendors waited to salvage

anything left.

An AFP reporter said the area was littered with abandoned sandals,

water bottles, lunch boxes and the charred wreckage of cars and buses.

Mohammad Hanif, a plastic toys vendor, said the bombing had robbed

him of his livelihood.

“Terrorists have not only killed people attending the procession

but they killed us and our families who depended on this shop,” Hanif

said.

Mayor Mustafa Kamal said losses could run into billions of rupees

and said the government would compensate traders.

“The losses are huge. We will try to compensate people as much as

we can with the help of federal and provincial governments,” Kamal said.

Sindh police chief Salahuddin Babar Khattak said a special

investigation team had been set up to probe the bombing.

Sectarian violence periodically flares in Pakistan between Shiites,

who beat and whip themselves in religious fervour during Ashura, and the

country’s majority Sunnis, who oppose the public display of grief.

Shiites account for about 20% of Pakistan’s mostly Sunni Muslim

population of 167?million.

More than 4000 people have died in sectarian

violence in Pakistan since the late 1980s.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.