A day after a horrific massacre of 19 Shias in Mansehra, a bus carrying young Shia men was targeted by a bomb in Karachi. Two of them were killed and 13 others were injured.
The bomb was planted at a footpath near the main gate of Safari Park, close to an electric substation. A car between the bomb and the bus blunted the force. “The car took the major impact of the explosion,” District East DIG Shahid Hayat told The Express Tribune. “If the bomb had hit the bus instead, there is no telling how many more people would have been killed.”
The bus was carrying activists of the Imamia Student Organisation (ISO) who boarded the bus at Karachi University and were headed to a central Youm-e-Quds rally at Numaish Chowrangi. The explosion took place at around 3:15pm. It was planned for one of the most revered days of the year, the last Friday of Ramzan, Jumatul Wida.
Since 1979, Youm-e-Quds rallies have been organised every year on the last Friday of Ramazan to express solidarity with Palestinians and to oppose Zionism. The ISO’s rally was scheduled to start at Numaish Chowrangi and end at Tibet Centre. The driver of the car, Manzur Hussain, who was also one of the participants, died on the spot.
DIG Hayat said that though the identity of the perpetrators has yet to be ascertained, the involvement of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could not be ruled out. “Very recently there have been a number of terrorist attacks in Karachi,” he explained. “The first step for the law enforcers would be to investigate whether this blast is linked to previous blasts in the city.”
About two years ago, over three dozen people were killed in a bomb blast at a Youm-e-Quds rally in Quetta. “If the perpetrators behind the blast in Quetta two years ago had been arrested and punished, this incident would not have happened,” the president of ISO, Athar Imran, told The Express Tribune.
The ISO announced three days of morning and has demanded arrests.
About two hundred people were planning to take part in ISO’s rally. About four dozen participants alone were on board. The victims said that a Rangers mobile was also parked near the blast site. “How did someone manage to plant a bomb when the Rangers were around?” asked one of the passengers, Ali Abbas. “I think that the culprits who were behind the attack on the ISO in Karachi University last year were also involved in this incident.”
Investigators suspect the involvement militant groups, especially Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is backed by the TTP and al-Qaeda. They suspect that the blast was retaliation to a possible operation in Waziristan.
CID SP Mazhar Mashwani told The Express Tribune that the Naeem Bukhari group of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi could be behind the attack. In the very least, a single group of terrorists is behind this one and the recent attacks on the Rangers and last year’s Muharram procession at Abyssinia Lane and Kala Pul.
Experts from the bomb disposal squad believe that the bomb bore a resemblance to those used in the recent attacks against Rangers personnel. It contained 2.5 kilogrammes of highly explosive material. Sabir Durrani, an expert from the squad, told The Express Tribune that a remote-controlled device containing ball bearings had been used.
“When they could not attack the Youm-e-Ali rally they attempted to attack our Youm-e-Quds rally,” said Maulana Ali Muhammad Naqvi, who is the president of the Hussain Youth Organization.
Twelve of the injured and one body were taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre between 3:40 pm and 3:50 pm, mostly in Edhi ambulances. Those who were seriously injured were sent to the surgical ICU. By evening, casualty director Dr Seemin Jamali said that two of the patients were on the ventilator, two patients were being operated on and two were sent to the orthopedics ward. She said that the doctors discovered mechanical shrapnel in two of the patients.
The hospital identified the injured as Mehdi Hassan (15), Abdul Waheed (40), Abdul Qadir(26), Ali Razzak (30), Ashraf Hussain (28), Nizamuddin (28), Rahat Hussain (39), Syed Murtaza Kazmi (19), Wasood (25), Minhaj Ali and Zakir Hussain. The body was identified as Manzoor Hussain. The ISO confirmed that seven more injured men were admitted to Aga Khan University Hospital. Imtiaz Ramzan Ali, 26, passed away later.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has condemned the attack and expressed his sorrow and condolences for those who died.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.