A low-intensity explosion took place outside the main gate of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) office on Tipu Sultan Road at around 11 am on Saturday. Fortunately, there were no casualties or damage to the building.
The attack comes just a day after an 18 kilogramme bomb was defused at the Jinnah hospital on Friday morning, where prayers were scheduled to be held.
ICRC Karachi office chief Peter Lick said that was hardly any damage as Saturday was their day off. “All our people remained safe.”
Another ICRC official, Sitara Jabeen, said the Karachi office had received no threats. “Nobody knows why the ICRC Karachi office was singled out for an attack,” she said.
Hussain, a guard at the nearby National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office, said he was resting in the shade and fell out of his chair when the explosion took place. He said he did not see anyone placing the bomb even though he was posted on the road opposite the site.
Acting Karachi police chief Iqbal Mehmood said the locally made device was a time bomb, which was packed with nuts and bolts with a glycerine-based solution in a small container.
Special Investigation Unit SSP Raja Umer Khattab said this was the first time that glycerine was used in a device in Karachi. After the blast, the mixture was smeared over the entire white gate of the office.
Khattab believes that whoever was behind this attack were “katchay khilari” (amateurs) whose knowledge about making powerful bombs was limited. “They used nuts and bolts that one finds in dumper trucks, which doesn’t make sense at all. They are too heavy to act as shrapnel,” he explained. The timer that was used was also similar to the type that is found in washing machines. Investigation authorities are also perplexed about the use of glycerine, which has no significance in bomb-making. Due to the poor quality of the bomb, police say that it was only the detonator that exploded.
Since the nature of bombs was completely different from the one defused at the hospital, Khattab says the people behind the ICRC attack may have no connection with the Jinnah hospital incident.
However, Iqbal Mehmood was more cautious and said that they were keeping all options open at this stage. “It has yet to be determined whether the two back-to-back bombs discovered in the city were connected or are a mere coincidence.”
Jinnah hospital investigations
SSP Khattab said the investigations into the Jinnah hospital bomb scare were being hindered by the lack of proper CCTV footage. “There are six entrances to Jinnah [hospital], out of which only two had cameras positioned,” he explained. “Out of these two, only one was working.”
Meanwhile, acting CCPO Iqbal Mehmood said the threat level in the city at the moment is at an “all-time high” as they are receiving intelligence reports of a possible large attack. “Just today, we received a new one for the airport.” Installations of security forces and law-enforcement agencies are also under threat, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.
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