Three die in bomb blast at newspaper office
KARACHI- Three people were killed and four others were injured in a bomb blast triggered by a female suicide bomber inside the marketing office of Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation located opposite the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum on M.A Jinnah Road at around noon on Monday.
It was the first-ever reported suicidal attack in the country. “A woman who had belted the bomb with her waist went to the newspaper office and exploded it,” said Bomb Disposal Squad chief Moinuddin.
The woman’s body was blown into pieces. Its remains were examined by the medico-legal officers and the experts of Bomb Disposal Squad at Civil Hospital. A bag was also found with the remains. Her viscera were sent for further medical examination. The woman’s hand, which severed in the blast, flew into the air and perched on the iron grille of Quaid’s mausoleum across the road, witnesses said.
The MLOs who examined the remains of attacker were of the opinion that it was the body of a woman, who was in her mid thirties. As her body was blown into pieces, it strengthened the theory that she was carrying a 200-grams explosive device which exploded around 12:30pm, the Bomb Disposal Squad chief said.
Besides, two members of the newspaper’s staff were also killed. They were identified as Najamul Hasan Zaidi, booking clerk, and Ziaul Haq, Circulation manager. Zaidi died on the spot and Ziaul Haq, who had suffered 80 per cent burns, was taken to Civil Hospital where he died after stuggling for life for more than two hours.
The injured were identified as Sajid Mehmood, Mohammad Azam Khan, both newspaper employees and two passersby, Khuda Bux and Jamil Ansari. According to the doctors, the condition of Sajid Mehmood was serious as he suffered more than 40 per cent burns.
An eyewitness – watchman of the newspaper office Mohammad Azam told reporters: “A woman came to the office to place an advertisement in the newspaper. Mr Najam received her and told her that a heirship certificate was required to get the ad published. Mr Najam asked me to get tea for the woman. “Immediately after I went out of the main entrance, the blast took place and its impact was so strong that I fell to the ground. I suffered injuries and was unable to stand on my feet,” Azam said.
This building came under rocket attack a few years ago, resulting in injuries to staff and damage to a number of vehicles. The newspapers’ editorial departments were later shifted to new its premises in Defence Housing Authority.
A visit to the site showed that the explosion took place near the main entrance of the office. The blast completely destroyed the room and also caused damage to the vehicles parked inside the premises. The wall of the adjacent Karachi National Hospital developed cracks due to the impact of the blast while windowpanes of some adjacent buildings were shattered.
Eyewitnesses said the blast was so powerful that it uprooted a heavy iron grille of the office, which first smashed into the vehicles moving outside and then fell over the island across the road. A cyclist, identified as Khuda Bux, suffered injuries when he was hit by the grille. The blast caused fire, which engulfed the entire office.
The police and law enforcement agencies reached the spot and closed a portion of the M A Jinnah Road for vehicular traffic which caused traffic jams. The traffic was, however, diverted to alternate routes. “I was riding my motorbike when the explosion occurred. I was virtually thrown into the air and then fell to the ground”, said Jamil Ansari, one of the injured. His left hand was broken.
“It was a thunderous sound. We were all shaken. The blast was followed by screeching of brakes as the motorists were driving helter skelter in all directions and were ramming into each other,” said Mohammad Sarwar, who sells cold drinks 100 yards from the place of the blast. The witnesses said that a number of people suffered bruises and were given treatment at the neighbouring Karachi National Hospital. The staff of the Karachi National Hospital said the blast caused partial damage to their three rooms and windowpanes were shattered. They treated some of the patients with minor injuries.
According to the Saddar fire station staff, they reached the spot within 30 minutes of the blast on information provided to them by one of the passengers of a bus travelling in front of the newspaper office. “Flames were leaping from the building and it took a great deal of effort to put out the fire,” the fire fighters said. They said they collected the pieces of flesh, including the ear of a victim. They also claimed that they collected around Rs 15,000 cash from the wreckage and handed it over to the Soldier Bazaar police.
Arif Nizami, the editor of The Nation, said the group had received threats and blamed the govnmment and local administration for failing to provide adequate security. “We received threats recently and informed the government,” he said without identifying the nature of the threat. “We have been punished for freedom of the press. There have been attacks on us in the past but no one has been arrested so far”, he added.
Commissioner Karachi, the city’s police chief, and other government officials visited the spot following the blast.