KARACHI: At least 60 people including women and children were killed and over 140 others sustained injuries after a powerful blast ripped through a densely populated area near Abbas Town, Health Department of Sindh said Sunday.
The injured and deceased included women and children.
A car containing explosives was detonated at the entrance of Iqra City and demolished two apartment buildings and nearby shops. Bomb Disposal Squad officials determined that a 150kg device was used.
Many victims were trapped under the rubble as teams worked to rescue them.
Panicked residents had resorted to aerial firing, which made security officials reluctant to approach the site.
A suspect was handed over to Rangers by residents of Abbas Town. He was reported to be from Peshawar and told the police that he had two accomplices on back-up.
Police IG Fayyaz Leghari said a suicide bomber may have been behind the attack.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah announced Rs1.5million in compensation to the families of the victims.
Local transport and traders’ associations said they would not be operating on Monday.
“There will be no public transport on the roads today,” said Karachi Transporters Ittehad chief Irshad Bokhari.
All-Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) President Atiq Mir also said shopping centres and malls as well as other business activity would remain suspended.
Most petrol pumps and filling stations were shut across the city.
Although the Karachi Stock Exchange was open for operations today, there were fewer dealers and trading volumes were low, AFP quoted a local stock broker as saying.
The Sindh Assembly session scheduled for March 4 (today) was also postponed for two days in the wake of the blast.
Last year was the deadliest on record for Shias in Pakistan with more than 400 killed, according to Human Rights Watch.
Similarly a shutdown was also observed to mourn the Karachi incident, in Hyderabad city which left most social and business activities suspended on Monday.
All main trade centres and Markets in the city remained closed while public transport was very thin. The attendance in the government and private offices was recorded low due to panic and fear.
Several main roads wore deserted look as traffic remained off the streets. Heavy contingents of police carried out patrolling across the city to avoid any untoward incident.
The government and private schools also remained closed as Sindh government and private school managements had already announced the closure over tragic bomb blast killings.
Angry mobs set tyres on fire in some areas of the city in protest against the blast incident.
The bomb exploded in Karachi on Sunday as worshippers were returning from prayers in the Shia-dominated neighbourhood of Abbas Town, ripping through two apartment blocks and trapping people beneath piles of rubble.
Those who survived but whose homes were damaged or destroyed are being housed temporarily in schools, officials said.
Karachi police claim to have arrested six Pakistani Taliban militants involved in the Abbas Town blasts which killed more than 50 people earlier in the month,
Police, along with Rangers forces, are carrying out targeted operations against law breakers and militants in the aftermath of renewed wave of violence in Karachi, the country’s financial hub which is plagued by political and sectarian violence and targeted killings.