- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

KARACHI, Pakistan - A suicide bomber who was blocked from driving into the U.S. Consulate slammed instead into an American diplomat’s car yesterday, killing the envoy. The force of the blast on the eve of President Bush’s trip to Pakistan blew the U.S. vehicle onto the grounds of a hotel.

The attacker also killed three other persons, wounded 52, and shattered windows in the consulate and on all 10 floors of the Marriott Hotel. Ten cars were destroyed, and charred wreckage was flung as far as 600 feet away in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the volatile southern city.

Mr. Bush, in neighboring India, quickly vowed to stick with his plan to fly to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, today on Friday .

“Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan,” Mr. Bush told reporters. His national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, said there was evidence the U.S. diplomat had been targeted.

Pakistani officials said the bombing could have been timed for Mr. Bush’s two-day visit.

“All international media are eyeing Pakistan at this time, and terrorists are using this to defame Pakistan and Muslims,” said Ishratul Ibab, the provincial governor.

No group took responsibility for the bombing, which left a crater 8 feet wide and more than 2 feet deep. But Karachi is a hotbed of Islamist militancy, and past attacks have been blamed on al Qaeda-linked militants.

The slain American was identified by the State Department as David Foy, 52, of Fayetteville, N.C. Mr. Foy was married and the father of four daughters. He joined the State Department in 2003 and was assigned to Pakistan last September as a facilities maintenance officer.

The attacker was driving on a road that leads to the consulate but a paramilitary guard signaled him to stop at a checkpoint, said Niaz Sadiqui, the provincial police chief. The bomber then saw the American official’s car and rammed into it 65 feet from the U.S. Consulate’s gate, igniting high-density explosives, Mr. Sadiqui said.

“We have reached the conclusion that it was a suicide attack, and we have found body parts of the attacker,” Mr. Sadiqui said.

Diplomats’ cars are usually marked by red-colored plates, which could explain why the bomber was able to target the official.

Falak Khurshid, a deputy inspector-general of police in Karachi, said the plates allow diplomats to avoid routine checks although they can choose not to have them for security reasons. It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Foy’s wrecked car had such plates.

The blast hurled the diplomat’s car across a concrete barrier and onto the grounds of the hotel, also killing his Pakistani driver, Iftikhar Ahmed. The others who died in the blast were the paramilitary guard and an unidentified woman.

The 52 wounded persons included a Moroccan girl hit by debris, according to provincial government spokesman Salahuddin Haider. He said investigators were trying to obtain video footage from surveillance cameras at the consulate.

There have been other attacks on or near the U.S. Consulate, located in an upscale district of Karachi’s sprawling downtown. A car bombing killed 14 persons in June 2002. Eight months later, two police guards outside the consulate were shot in an armed assault. In March 2004, police defused a huge bomb in a van minutes before it was timed to explode outside the mission’s walls.

The last U.S. Embassy employee to be killed in an attack in Pakistan was Barbara Green, who died with her 17-year-old daughter when a grenade was tossed into a church in March 2002 in Islamabad.

Protesters were already out in full force yesterday before Mr. Bush’s arrival. Scores of demonstrators chanted “Death to Bush,” and other anti-U.S. slogans in streets in several Pakistani cities.

When President Clinton visited Islamabad six years ago, residents were told to stay indoors and streets were eerily empty. Before flying here from India, Mr. Clinton switched planes at the last minute and arrived in an unmarked white aircraft, just after a USA-marked decoy jet landed.

Associated Press photographs

Pakistani police yesterday moved a car damaged in a suicide bomb attack in Karachi. The attacker, who struck near the U.S. Consulate, killed four persons, including an American, and wounded 52 others.

Activists from Pakistan’s Labor Party protested President Bush’s planned visit to Pakistan at a rally in Lahore. Mr. Bush vowed to travel to Pakistan despite an attack near the U.S. Consulate.

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