Two bomb blasts in the Pakistani city of Karachi, apparently targeting Shia Muslims marking a religious ceremony, have killed at least 22 people.
A bomb-laden motorcycle first exploded on a main road in the city as a bus carrying Shia worshippers passed on Friday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 40 others.
The second blast went off outside the hospital where the wounded were being taken, reportedly killing another 10 people, witnesses said.
“An explosion occurred at the Jinnah hospital near the emergency ward, where the bodies and injured were being taken,” Dr Mushtaq Ahmad said.
“I heard a large blast. People are running all over the place.”
Police later said they had defused a third explosive device in the premises of the hospital.
“The bomb was planted in a television set and we successfully defused it,” Ghulam Nabi Memon, a senior police officer, said.
Shias in Pakistan are marking Arbaeen – the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was killed in a seventh century battle in Karbala.
The violence in Karachi echoed similar attacks in Iraqagainst Shia Muslims gathered in Karbala to mark the occasion.
It was not clear if either attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
“A bomb was planted on the motorcycle and it hit the bus,” Waseem Ahmad, the city police chief, said.
“We cannot determine in one and a half hours whether it was a suicide blast or not. We are examining the site. We are collecting the evidence. We are taking witness statements and then we will say something concrete.”
Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Islamabad, said that it was unclear who had carried out the two attacks on Friday, but he noted that the city had previously seen ethnic, sectarian and political violence.
|The first explosion hit a bus carrying
Shia worshippers [AFP]
“It would appear that whoever is conducting these acts of terror in Karachi wants to destabilise Karachi,” he said.
“There has been a lot of talk that Karachi is a strategic city, it is a port city, but whoever wants to hit Karachi primarily wants to do so because it is the financial heart of the country.
“Karachi has also seen an unrelenting wave of firing incidents, snipers shooting at ordinary people across the city.”
The Pakistani Taliban have claimed past attacks against Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
Pakistan had tightened security in the city to protect mass processions of worshippers during Ashoura- deploying tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces.
spotted by RS