KARACHI: A motorcycle rigged with explosives rammed into a bus carrying Shias near the Nursery bridge in Karachi Friday, killing 12 people and wounding 40 in the second such attack in Pakistan’s financial capital in two months.
“Twelve people have been martyred and 40 injured. There are children and women among the killed and wounded,” Doctor Seemi Jamal, the chief of Jinnah Hospital in Karachi, told AFP.
An hour after first attack, a second explosion was heard outside the emergency ward of Jinnah Hospital where the injured were being shifted.
The attacks, in a city largely isolated from bombings concentrated in northwest Pakistan but with a history of sectarian tensions and political violence, underscored the security challenges facing the country.
The bus attacked during the first explosion was carrying Shia Muslim mourners to participate in a religious procession to mark the end of the holy month of Muharram in Karachi, a city of 16 million people.
“The bus was carrying Shia mourners. It was full of people and a motorcycle rammed into the bus. The motorcycle was completely destroyed and the bus was heavily damaged,” police official Shahid Hasan told AFP.
City police chief Waseem Ahmad told reporters that the motorcycle was rigged with an improvised-explosive device (IED). It remained unclear whether the motorcycle was being driven by anyone when it struck the bus.
The attack happened on the bridge of the main Faisal highway in the centre of Karachi, shattering windows in nearby buildings, said an AFP reporter.
Ambulances raced through the streets as volunteers helped to evacuate the wounded and armed security forces patrolled the area, television footage showed.
Following the blast, the main Chehlum procession was stopped at Empress Market by the bomb disposal unit due to security concerns.
On December 28, a massive bombing killed 43 people at a parade marking the holiest Shia day of Ashura earlier in the month of Muharram.
Pakistan’s feared Taliban network claimed responsibility for that attack, sparking riots that caused huge financial losses.
Pakistan has seen a recent decline in militant attacks, attributed both to the success of a US drone war and Pakistani offensives in the tribal belt shadowing the Afghan border where Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks are based.