A series of bomb blasts across Sindh, which started from 5:30 am on Wednesday, left almost eight people injured and caused minor delays in the Railway operations.
Most of the blasts took place outside the National Bank of Pakistan’s (NBP) branches, while the Sindh Bank Kotri branch in Jamshoro was apparently mistaken for its proximity with the NBP.
A blast occurred at the railway track near Qazi Wah near Mirpur Mathelo which destroyed two and a half feet of the track. Following the incident, the Karachi-bound Jaffer Express was stopped by villagers along with the Hazara Express. Trains on the Karachi to Punjab travel route were delayed for almost four hours but railway authorities reportedly repaired the damage within a few hours to resume the rail traffic.
According to the Karachi divisional transportation officer, Abdul Qadir Sheikh, the blast did not affect the train traffic of the Karachi division. He refrained from commenting on the blast near Mirpur Mathelo. The Karachi Cantonment Station manager, Bashir Abbasi, also maintained that the flow of trains coming or going from Karachi was not disrupted by the blast.
The Sukkur bomb disposal squad incharge, Inspector Tahir, told The Express Tribune that the bomb used at the railway track weighed eight kilogrammes which is usually used to cause considerable damage. He added that it was made locally and was remote-controlled.
Later, unknown miscreants damaged the upcountry railway track in Shaheed Benazirabad’s Sarhari area in which half foot of the track was wrecked. However, unlike the series of blasts which went off simultaneously in the morning, this incident took place in the afternoon at a remote village.
The automated teller machines (ATM) of banks in 15 cities were targeted, including Sukkur, Ghotki, Ranipur, Moro, Larkana, Dokri, Shaheed Benazeer Abad, Dadu, Bhan Saeed Abad, Hala, Hyderabad and Thatta.
The blasts in Karachi occurred in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal around 6:30am and were both low-intensity. The first locally-made bomb was planted with the electricity pylon situated near the bank’s ATM. The second blast occurred outside a shop in a mobile mall near Moti Mehal in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, completely damaging the shop.
An NBP guard, Pathan Soomro, sustained minor injuries in the Dokri blast while three people were injured in Hyderabad and Jamshoro each, and two in the Shaheed Benazirabad district.
Muhammad Munshi, a gatekeeper of the apartment building above the Sindh bank branch in Kotri, was critically injured. “I noticed something unusual placed outside the Sindh Bank’s shutter and as I approached to inspect it, there was an explosion.” Munshi’s legs, abdomen, face and eyes were injured from glass shreds and shrapnel.
The Latifabad and Qasimabad branches were the worst-hit as the false ceilings collapsed and the computers and furniture were also damaged.
No claims, no blame
The Hyderabad SSP Haseeb Afzal Baig said that the improvised devices used in the explosions weighed at least half a kilogramme. “They appear similar to the bombs used at the railway track and the power pylons in the past.”
He said that no arrests have been made but pamphlets of the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army, who demand the separation of Sindh from Pakistan, were found at the sites. No group has claimed the attacks as yet.
The Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz’s (JSQM) acting chairperson, Dr Niaz Kalani, ruled out the party’s involvement in the blasts or with the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army. The party’s chairperson, Riaz Chandio, also maintained that JSQM is against violence and had no part in the blasts.
The attack halted the NBP’s services for a few hours as people, especially pensioners, protested outside some branches. However, a spokesperson for the NBP regional head, Latif Ansari, said that all the branches continued to provide regular services except for the closure of the ATM.
He said that the footage from the closed-circuit television camera will be decoded at the Karachi head office. But a bank officer, on the condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that cameras are not installed at the ATM rooms in Hyderabad except for the branch at the Fatima Jinnah Road.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.