At least 10 people were killed and 17 wounded when a car bomb exploded near a secular party’s election office in Pakistan’s commercial hub Karachi late Friday, officials said, the latest violence ahead of historic polls next month.
The powerful explosion went off as a candidate for the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party prepared to address a corner meeting in the city’s poor western neighbourhood of Mominabad, local police officer Mohammad Khan said.
Bashir Jan, who is standing for election in the country’s national parliament, escaped unhurt according to Qadir Khan, a member of his party.
The blast was heard from several kilometres away and damaged nearby shops and houses, witnesses said, while police added it destroyed some 10 cars and a dozen motorcycles.
“It was huge blast, I thought it was an earthquake,” resident Gul Ahmed said.
“We rushed out and saw smoke, there was blood every where at the blast site, we put the casualties in the private cars and ambulances,” he said.
Police spokesman Imran Shaukat described the bomb as an improvised explosive device planted in a Suzuki car.
Hospital officials said 10 people were killed and 17 wounded.
“We have received seven bodies and 12 wounded people,” Dr Nisar Ahmed of the main Civil Hospital said.
Separately two dead bodies were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Dr Mashhood Ahmed said. Another five wounded have been admitted in his hospital.
One body was brought to Jinnah Hospital, Dr Khalil Ahmed there said.
Khan, the ANP activist, quoted Jan as saying that he would continue his election campaign undeterred.
Friday’s blast was the second to hit the port city in less than 24 hours. Five people were killed on Thursday when a bomb exploded outside the office of secular Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, police said.
The ANP and MQM were coalition partners in the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party-led government and have been threatened by the Taliban for backing military operations against the Islamists.
The three parties are perceived as secular.
Deadly attacks targeting politicians or political parties have killed 44 people since April 11, according to an AFP tally.
May 11 national polls should see power pass from a civilian government that has served a full term to another through the ballot box for the first time in the nuclear-armed country’s turbulent history.