- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

KARACHI, Pakistan — A suspected suicide bomb shattered Friday prayers at a crowded mosque, killing at least 14 persons and wounding more than 200 — the second deadly attack on minority Shi’ite Muslims in Pakistan in two months.

Hundreds of Shi’ite youths began burning cars, gas pumps and a government office after the explosion, which left walls scarred by shrapnel and carpets stained with blood.

Police urged Shi’ite leaders to help quell the unrest in Pakistan’s largest city.

The attack occurred shortly after 1 p.m. at a mosque inside a government-run religious school. Evidence of the violence was everywhere as rescue workers tended to the wounded.

There was no word on the motive for the attack, which President Pervez Musharraf called a “heinous act of terrorism.”

The Sindh Madrassah Tul Islam school, for students ages 4 to 18, has separate mosques for Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim worshippers. Witnesses said the school had let out early, as it does on Fridays. Most victims were adults who came to the mosque for prayers.

Tariq Jamin, deputy inspector-general of Karachi police, said 14 persons were killed. Dr. Razar Ali at the Civil Hospital said most of the dead and 215 wounded were brought to the hospital.

Sadir Durrani, a police explosives expert, said he had found no timing or radio devices, indicating the blast was likely caused by a suicide bomber.

Chief investigator Manzoor Mughal said no crater was found at the blast point, suggesting a person was carrying the bomb. “We are still investigating, but it seems it was a suicide bombing,” he said.

Several survivors described a man in a black robe and black turban who was sitting near the column where the bomb exploded.

“I was inside the mosque for Friday prayers when a bomb exploded with a huge bang,” said Kalb e-Abbas, 23. “Something hit my arm and I saw blood all over my body.”

Mr. E-Abbas said he heard cries all around him as he stumbled from the building.

About 80 percent of Pakistan’s 150 million people are Sunni, and the rest Shi’ite. Most live together in peace, but radical groups on both sides are responsible for frequent deadly attacks.

In March, Sunni radicals attacked a procession in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing more than 40 people and wounding 150. Another bomb attack in Quetta wounded two yesterday, one day before an international investment conference there.

Karachi, Pakistan’s business hub, has been beset by frequent acts of terrorism.

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and slain in Karachi in January 2002. Later that year, a suicide attack outside a Karachi hotel killed 11 French engineers, and a suicide bombing killed 14 Pakistanis outside the U.S. Consulate. Islamist militants were blamed for both bombings.

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