Karachi: At least 48 people, including women and children, were killed and 150 injured when two powerful blasts ripped through a Shia-dominated area of the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, the latest in a string of attacks targeting the minority sect.
The first blast occurred outside an imambargah (Shia prayer hall) in Abbas Town at about 7 P.M. as people were leaving after prayers. The second explosion went off in the same area within 10 minutes, local residents said.
Officials at three hospitals said 37 people, including women and children, were killed in the attack.
Jinnah Hospital alone received 20 bodies and several seriously injured persons. Officials at Patel Hospital said they had received eight bodies and four more people succumbed to injuries in hospital.
About 80 people were injured and an emergency was declared at hospitals across Karachi. Several young children were among the seriously injured, officials said.
Police officials said the first blast was apparently caused by explosives hidden in a car that was parked near the entrance of Abbas Town.
Residents of Karachi said the explosion was heard from 10 km away. The bomb was packed with ball bearings, which caused widespread damage. There were reports that the second blast was caused by the gas cylinder of a car, though this could not immediately be confirmed.
The blasts caused a power outage and triggered panic in Abbas Town, which has a large Shia population.
The explosions destroyed the façade of two apartment blocks and damaged about 20 shops and several cars.
Fires erupted in the apartment blocks and footage on television showed huge flames leaping into the night sky.
Local residents used car headlights to help rescuers who searched for survivors in the rubble of apartments and shops that were destroyed by the blasts.