Karachi, Apr 28 : In the third such assault in two days, five people, including four Pakistani naval personnel, were killed when a roadside bomb ripped through a navy bus on a key thoroughfare in the southern port city of Karachi today. More than 15 people were wounded in the attack in Faisal Avenue, one of the main roads in Pakistan's politically tense economic capital, where NATO ships berth with supplies for troops in Afghanistan.
Four naval sailors and a passing motorcyclist were killed in the blast at around 8.15 in the morning as the Navy bus carrying the sailors was leaving the Pakistan Navy's Mehran base on the main Karsaz-Shahrah-e-Faisal road, a naval spokesman and other officials told the media.
The injured were rushed to hospitals, where condition of one civilian was reported to be serious. The attack comes just days after the Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani declared that his army had “broken the back” of the Taliban and al Qaeda linked militants in the country. Television footage showed that the blast was so powerful that it blew sign boards on the entire avenue, left a fuel pump in tatters and heavily damaged cars parked along the road.
On Tuesday, Naval buses were hit by similar roadside bombs in the posh Defence housing authority area and in Baldia killing four people and wounding around 55 people. The Naval spokesman, Commander Salman Ali said that the bomb was remote controlled and placed near the roadside in a water valve. He confirmed the bus was carrying Naval employees from their homes to their offices and the dockyard.
The blast took place at a time when there was heavy traffic on the Shahrah Faisal road packed with office goers. Eye-witnesses said as soon as the bomb went off there was panic among the people close by with several vehicles ramming into each other.
Sindh Chief Minister, Qaim Ali Shah said terrorists were now targeting navy buses but security plans would be tightened to prevent more such incidents. A separatist movement in the Baluchistan province, the Baluch Liberation Front had claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Navy buses on Tuesday. Later, Taliban insurgents also claimed responsibility for the attacks. A senior police official said fortunately the bomb went off at some distance from a petrol pump which is located near the Naval base.
Top police officers, including Deputy Inspector General of Police Iftikhar Tarar said the attack was similar to the bombing of two Pakistan Navy buses on Tuesday. The bomb contained approximately three kilograms of explosives and was timed to go off as the bus passed by, Tarar said.
Armed forces personnel cordoned off the site and scoured the area for clues.The bomb exploded close to the scene of one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan when a motorcade of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto's was attacked by two suicide bombers shortly after she returned to Pakistan from self-exile in October 2007, killing 139 people.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the bombing.Zardari said Pakistan is determined to counter threats from terrorists and would not be deterred by such acts. PTI