INTERNATIONAL

`Karachi blast was a suicide attack'

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 1. Police suspect that a suicide bomber triggered the blast in a mosque in the port city of Karachi on Monday evening. The toll in the incident rose to 20 and another 50 people are being treated for injuries in different hospitals of the city.

Reports from Karachi said police had to resort to fire and teargas as a section of the agitated crowds which gathered for the funeral of the victims indulged in arson and chanted anti-American slogans.

"Apparently, it was a suicide attack. We did not see any crater in the mosque, which shows that it was a suicide attack," Manzoor Mughal, officer in-charge of the investigations told reporters.

Authorities have reasons to be concerned over the preliminary findings that the attack could have been the handiwork of a suicide bomber. Suicide bombing would mean emergence of a new breed of motivated jehadis.

Inaugurating an international seminar on "OIC challenge and response-enlightened moderation" here today, the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, referred to the phenomenon of suicide bombings in the Muslim world and talked about the need for a strategy to check the menace.

An interesting aspect of the unrest in Karachi since the killing of the well-known religious leader, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzi, on Sunday is the rise in anti-American sentiments. Their contention is that the incidents are a conspiracy by foreign forces to destabilise the Muslim world and hide their own failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is certainly not a coincidence that the KFC and McDonald outlets in Karachi were the targets of mob fury in the last two days.

There were indications from Gen. Musharraf on Monday that some tough decisions were in the offing to restore law and order in Karachi.

His options include replacing the leadership of the city or provincial bomb blast security establishment, or declaring a state of emergency that would give the military a greater hand in running the port city.