KARACHI: At least eight people were killed, including two children, and more than 65 people were injured after two bombs exploded at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Mazaar in Clifton on Thursday night when devotees had thronged the area.
According to witnesses, a suicide bomber approached the main gate at around 7 pm. He was carrying a bomb, which he set off as he approached the walkthrough security gate. The explosions were heard at least three kilometres away.
According to Jinnah hospital accident and emergency chief Dr Seemin Jamali, more than 60 injured people were brought to them. Others were taken to Civil hospital and nearby hospitals as well.
Shortly after the attack, the police cordoned off the area and people were forced to evacuate for fear of a third explosion. The Rangers arrived along with the Bomb Disposal Squad.
Two severed heads were taken into police custody, said home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, who confirmed the suicide bombings.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for this attack.
Auqaf or religious affairs department officials also arrived at the shrine. The walls are protected with barbed wires. “We provided all the security we can,” said Mirza. “We are doing our best to take the injured people to the hospitals ... and are investigating the matter. Pakistan has been under threat for a while. We also have this fear [of attacks] at the back of our minds... We received warnings of threats to shrines earlier ... We keep warning the public to avoid public places.”
“It is really regrettable that terrorists are attacking places of worship. Those who attacked the shrine are enemies of Pakistan and Islam.”
Mirza claimed that the CCTV cameras that were recently set up near the crime scene “have nothing to do with this” incident.
“They are still under trial and are with the [government’s] IT department. We have given orders to seal the shrines in Karachi. Now the people have to realise how important life is. These people [attackers] are trying to destabalise the government you elected,” he said.
“Physical security has to be increased ... but we have good coordination among the police,” said CCPO Karachi Fayyaz Leghari, adding that the CID and the SIU are focused on terrorism and crime. The police have both heads of the suicide bombers.
He said that the CCTV cameras are currently on trial, for which briefings are underway. “We will have a good system in place,” he said.
“Everyone wants to place 20 cameras everywhere. They [intelligence agencies] work behind the scenes. When there’s bad direction from the top, then you find [mismanagement] at the bottom,” said former IB DG Masood Sharif Khattak, who added while security is provided by the police, the officials need to be more responsible.
Federal interior minister Rehman Malik condemned the incident and demanded reports from the IG Sindh and DG Rangers while the Sunni Tehreek announced a three-day-mourning period. The MQM has announced one day of mourning. The president, prime minister and heads of political parties condemned the incident. The All Karachi Trade Union announced a strike on Friday. All educational institutes will remain open on Friday, said the secretary of education, however.
Explosions were meant to derail peace in Karachi, said the MQM. There was unrest in Nazimabad, New Karachi, Lines Area after the attack.
“They were suicide attacks and the heads of those who carried out attacks have been sent for DNA tests,” IG Sindh declared.
TPO Clifton Tariq Darejo quoted witnesses as saying that the first attacker blew himself up at the first check point just a few yards inside the main gate. “The seond one then ran towards the main shrine and tried to enter the tomb but due to stringent security measures had to blow himself up at the second check point,” Dharejo said. “Many lives have been saved because of the stringent security measures. The guards sacrificed their lives.”
Ministry of auqaf version
Auqaf Secretary Iqbal Ahsan Zaidi said that security were on high alert at the time of the explosion. “It was due to the sacrifices of the security guards that many lives have been saved,” he said.
However, no CCTV camera was installed in the shrine at the time of the blast. “We install cameras in the shrines, including at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi at the time of Urs,” he said. According to him, the ministry has to look after 84 shrines in Sindh and around one million people visit them.
“We have meagre resources and we could not install CCTV cameras at shrines on a permanent basis,” he said. “However, recently we had approval from the department to install cameras at the shrine and the job will soon be done.”
He said 35 security personnel and staff members of the department were performing on duty at the time of the blast. “The security guards sacrificed their lives and our assistant manager is critically injured.”
All shrines in Karachi have been sealed due to security concerns, said the DIG (East)
“There have been no proceedings against madrassas. We should unite against extremists. Until we don’t act against these elements, we will have to continue to pick up bodies,” said Babar Ghauri, reported ARY.
Meanwhile, incidents of violence were reported from across the city following the blasts.
Three buses were set ablaze - one in Dalmia, one in Garden and the third in Jamshed Quarters.
Three people were reported to have been injured in incidents of aerial firing in SITE and Jamshed Quarters, but police were not confirmed these injuries.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah announced Rs500,000 compensation for the families of the dead and Rs100,000 for the injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2010.
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