The death toll from a bomb blast that ripped through an illegal gambling den in Karachi rose to 19 on Friday, with more than 40 other people wounded, AFP reported.
(Updated from print edition below)
16 killed in Karachi gambling den blast
At least 16 people were killed in an explosion at a gambling den in Karachi’s gang-war infested Lyari area on Thursday night.
The remote-controlled blast, in which two kilogrammes of explosive material was used, also left 35 people injured in the locality known as Jinnahabad Lyari Quarters.
There were chaotic scenes at the Civil Hospital emergency ward as angry relatives banged the gate for being denied entry. Relatives of the victims struggled with each other to identify their dead at the mortuary. There was hardly any space left after ten bodies, while the rest were kept in ambulances parked outside.
A brother of a victim, Nadeem, was standing shellshocked next to one such ambulance containing the body of his brother Habib (45), a father of nine children. Nadeem says his brother was a daily wager and would go to the den in a failed attempt to double his wages.
Safdar Maseeh’s teenaged son and daughter were embarrassed to talk about their father as he struggled for his life inside the operation theatre. The children were at a loss as to why their father used to indulge in gambling, when according to them, he had fairly decent job as a ‘supervisor at KMC.’
The gambling den called “The Birch Club” is located at Zahid Arcade, a densely populated neighbourhood. According to a signboard hanging outside the den near posters of the slain PPP chairpersons Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the club was registered in ‘1953-53 under the Act XX of 1860.’
At least two 4x4 jeeps and three 1600cc cars were parked outside the club in the poor neighborhood. Inside the club, pieces of glass and dice smeared the floor. According to the gamblers who frequented the club, it was operated by the notorious gambler Aijaz Memon and his friend Ramzan Baloch alias Hajji Ramzan.
The Crime Investigation Department’s SSP Chaudhry Aslam had conducted a raid at the den only four months back. However, after a one-month break, the den reopened and all the people who had been arrested were released.
Area residents accuse the police of taking money to let the illicit activity continue.
Aslam, however, denies the charges. “We had arrested around 250 people when we conducted the raid,” he said. “But since gambling is a bailable offence, the culprits won bails from courts”.
He suspected some internal rift among the gamblers as the reason behind the blast.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2011.
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