Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Report #13 on the Era of Peace

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From TurkishPress.com

November 15, 2005

Car bomb explodes outside KFC in Pakistan, three dead

A car bomb has torn through an outlet of a US fast food chain in Pakistan's largest city Karachi, killing at least three people and wounding more than a dozen, police said.

The vehicle blew up outside a KFC restaurant as businesses were opening for morning trade Tuesday in a busy part of the volatile city, which has seen several attacks blamed on Islamic militants.

The fast food outlet and a nearby bank branch were destroyed in the blast. Several vehicles caught alight and the windows of neighbouring buildings were shattered.

"It was a high-intensity explosion and its noise was heard in several parts of the city. It appears that the KFC was the target," Karachi police chief Mushtaq Shah told AFP.

Two people were killed outright and about 15 wounded, police officer Manzoor Mughal said. Another died later in a hospital operating theatre, he said.

Bank employee Muhammad Aslam said from hospital that the blast threw him from his car as he arrived at work, knocking him unconscious.

"I do not know who brought me to hospital," Aslam said, his head in bandages. "I also do not know where my friend is who was also in the car with me."

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said the explosion was "naturally an act of terrorism."

He condemned the attackers for striking as Pakistan was trying to recover from the October 8 earthquake that claimed more than 73,000 lives and left 3.3 million people without homes.

"At this moment we are asking the international community to come to Pakistan's help in the wake of the earthquake and this blast will send a wrong signal outside," Sherpao said.

Pakistan will host a donors' conference in Islamabad on Saturday to try to raise billions of dollars needed to rebuild quake-hit areas. US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca is already here with a delegation raising funds for earthquake relief.

A purported spokesman for a shadowy group called the Baluchistan Liberation Army telephoned reporters in the southwestern city of Quetta to claim responsibility for Tuesday's blast.

He said it was aimed at the state-run Pakistan Petroleum Limited, which operates a large natural gasfield in Baluchistan, and has offices in the same building near the KFC branch.

"We will carry out more blasts because the PPL and other departments are exploiting Baluchistan's national resources and using them to the benefit of other provinces," said the man, whose credentials could not be verified.

The blast coincided with a hearing in a Karachi court of an appeal against a death sentence handed to a Islamic extremist for the kidnapping and murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

British-born Sheikh Omar was convicted of involvement in Pearl's abduction and given the death penalty in June 2002.

It also came a day after President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan had not suffered a terrorist attack on Western interests, like last week's hotel bombings in Jordan, for more than a year.

The attack was just 200 meters from the hotel where England's cricket team are scheduled to stay for their December 15 one-day international against Pakistan.

England earlier rejected Karachi as one of the three Test venues for their tour because of its history of violence.

Six employees of another KFC branch in Karachi were killed on May 30 when the building was torched by a mob of minority Shiite Muslims angry over the killing of five of their community by a suspected Sunni militant group with links to Al-Qaeda.

In September twin bomb blasts wounded eight people at crowded KFC and McDonald's restaurants in the city. The government said they were linked to a national strike called by opposition parties.


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