- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A bomb exploded yesterday in the back garden of an Italian restaurant crowded with foreigners in Pakistan’s capital, killing a Turkish woman and wounding 11 others, including five Americans, police said.

Personnel from the U.S. and British embassies were among the wounded. It appeared to be the first attack targeting foreigners in a recent wave of violence in Pakistan.

A list of victims was posted in the reception area at Islamabad’s Poly Clinic. Five U.S. citizens were listed as undergoing surgery. It said one Japanese, one Canadian, one Briton and three Pakistanis were wounded. Foreigners crowded around the list; some burst into tears.

None of the wounded were in critical condition, although one of the Pakistanis had been very seriously hurt, Islamabad’s Assistant Commissioner Farasad Ali told Reuters news agency from the hospital.

Pakistan has been battling al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants since joining the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism after the September 11 attacks in the United States. More than 500 people have been killed this year in violence including suicide bombings.

On Tuesday, two suicide bombings killed 24 persons and wounded more than 200 in the eastern city of Lahore.

Zahid Janjua, a student at the city’s International Islamic University, was dining nearby at another restaurant. He helped bring victims to waiting ambulances.

“It was chaos. Broken tables and chairs lay scattered across the lawn. There were eight or nine people lying injured and crying for help,” he told the Associated Press.

Officials said the bomb was planted in the garden or thrown over a nearby wall of the Luna Caprese restaurant, a popular socializing spot for expatriates in Islamabad.

Pakistani Interior Secretary Kamal Shah confirmed the Turkish woman’s death.

After inspecting the destruction, city police Chief Shahid Nadeem Baloch told reporters that 11 persons were wounded: eight foreigners and three Pakistanis — a couple dining and a waiter. He gave no further details of their identities.

“There is a crater in the ground which suggests that it was a planted bomb, but we need to investigate further,” Chief Baloch said.

Mr. Shah said a bomb could have been thrown over the wall.

“There were U.S. Embassy personnel among the injured. They are receiving medical treatment and their families are being notified,” embassy spokeswoman Kay Mayfield said.

The British Foreign Office reported that a staff member from the British High Commission had been “lightly injured” in the blast. The man was being treated in a hospital, a spokesman for the foreign office said.

Pakistan has experienced months of political turmoil over opposition to President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Musharraf’s allies were routed in a parliamentary election last month. The campaign was overshadowed by the assassination in December of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The National Assembly will convene tomorrow for the first time since the election, and Mr. Musharraf is expected to invite the victors to form a coalition government, though it might end up forcing him from power.

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