Eight people were killed and twenty four injured when two improvised explosive devices ripped through a quiet Bohri community centre in quick succession in the Hyderi area where just one month ago another bomb had been found and defused.
The first bomb, planted next to a tree and triggered by a remote-control device, went off at 7.30 pm behind Dolmen Centre, according to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) West Akram Naeem Bharoka.
The bomb was planted just a couple of hundred metres from the area’s Bohri Jamaat Khaana and people were returning from their prayers at the time of the first blast during rush hour. As people fled towards the middle of the street where food vendors, shops and flats are located, the second bomb planted in a motorcycle went off — causing the bulk of the casualties.
“This is where we eat, where we chat, where we meet at night. The bomb went off right next to an ice cream vendor and at that very time a young girl was buying an ice cream cone from there,” Mohammad Mustafa, a resident of the area told The Express Tribune.
According to the DIG, both explosive devices had approximately three kilogrammes of explosives in it and were filled with ball bearings.
“What is extraordinary is the high density of pellets used in these blasts. There were at least five to eight kilogrammes of pellets in each bomb, which is something we don’t usually see. It was a high-intensity blast,” Bharoka revealed.
The walls of the surrounding buildings were pockmarked from the pellets up to the third and fourth floors with some holes easily measuring four to five inches in diameter.
The motorbike that was used in the second blast had been traced by the police and belonged to Hanif, a resident of Lines Area. Police sources added that the bike had been stolen from its owner last month in Rizvia but authorities had failed to complete the FIR.
Most residents of the area – predominantly Bohris – were in shock. “These people keep to themselves and don’t have a conflict with anyone. They don’t say anything against Shias or Sunnis,” a resident told The Express Tribune. “But it is clear that they were targeting the community.”
DIG Bharoka confirmed that most of those dead and wounded belonged to the Bohri community and that “this was a clear case of them being targeted” but the officer did not provide any motive as to why this was the case.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought a report from IG Sindh.
Bharoka said the blasts shared similarities, in structure of the bomb and the techniques used, to the explosion that took place near the Chinese Consulate in Clifton late July and said the two incidents might be linked.
Meanwhile, MQM chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the bomb blasts and expressed grief on the deaths and injuries caused. He termed the incident “a blatant act of terrorism”.
He said that terrorist elements wanted to create confusion in the country by giving way to uncertainty in Karachi. He offered condolences to the grieving families and demanded serious action against the perpetrators from the government.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered the formation of a joint committee to investigate the twin blasts. According to a press release, the committee would be led by the Karachi Police IG. Rangers and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) representatives will be part of it. Malik directed the FIA to send their teams to the locations and collect evidence.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.