KARACHI – At least seven persons were killed and 40 others injured when a powerful bomb explosion ripped through a bus a short distance from the Army House in Karachi on Saturday.

The bus had just left a terminal near the Cantonment Railway Station around 3:10pm when the bomb went off. The incident occurred in a highly sensitive zone at a spot just about half kilometre from Army House, the army chief’s official residence when he visits Karachi.

The intercity bus, bearing registration number MD-2888, of Butt Brothers Transport Company and owned by an officer of a security institution, was heading to Sohrab Goth when the blast came. The bus was shattered by the huge explosion and human body parts lay scattered around the burning bus structure.

A witness told reporters that a young boy was torn in two by the explosion. The blast and resulting fire also hit several nearby shops, buildings, motorcycles and cars. The fire reduced the bus to a heap of mangled and blackened metal.

Following the blast, rescuers of various welfare organisations along with the police, rangers and other security personnel reached the spot and shifted the victims to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC). Security forces also cordoned off the area.

Hospital Emergency Incharge Dr Semi Jamali confirmed that at least five bodies and 40 wounded were brought to JPMC. As many as 30 victims were discharged after first aid and rest of them were admitted to the hospital. One person died at the hospital and eight of the wounded were in serious condition. The deceased included Fazalur Rehman, Nadeem, Shafiq, Punya Lal Jee, two unknown persons and a one-year-old child.

Soon after the incident, several police officials told different causes of the blast. “Blast occurred when compressor of air-conditioned bus was blown up,” Additional IG Iqbal Mehmood opined. “CNG cylinder of bus had exploded,” Crime Investigation Department SP Aslam Khan gave his ‘expert opinion’. Special Investigation Unit (SIU) SSP Farooq Awan and others experts of terrorism gave similar sorts of opinions about the nature of blast.

But cleaner Zahid Khan, who works for the same transport company, told the media that all the vehicles of the company ran on diesel and had no CNG cylinders. Police officials later acknowledged the incident was an act of terrorism and that a bomb had been planted in the bus.

The blast occurred when not only Army Chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani was in the city but President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were also there, and Shahrah-e-Faisal was heavily manned by the security forces.

A relatively unknown militant organisation calling itself Lashkar-e-Balochistan claimed responsibility for the blast but ADIG Iqbal Mehmood said the claim appeared to be false.

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