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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Eyewitness: Shock after Karachi blast
Victims' bodies at a local hospital
The suicide bomber and policemen are among the dead

It was the usual morning rush hour in Karachi's city centre.

People from the exclusive suburbs of Clifton and Defence were travelling to their offices and businesses.

They were used to the heavy security arrangements around the American Consulate which lay on their way.

A number of police cars and armoured personnel carriers guard the consulate building round the clock.

All other roads leading to the well-secured building have been shut down for a long time. The only access is from the main Abdullah Haroon Road.

Blast

Suddenly there was a very powerful bang - for some time everything was covered by heavy smoke.

Staff inspect the damage at the US consulate
A wall at the consulate was damaged

A bomb placed inside a car had exploded just close to the perimeter wall of the US consulate.

A portion of the wall was breached, sending waves of panic among those inside the building.

Screams and shouts could be heard on the road as cars banged into one another.

Several of them were damaged. Glass shattered from the doors and windows of nearby luxury hotels.

Suspect vehicle

Soon after, rescue workers pulled out people from the damaged cars and ambulances rushed them to hospital.

Police officials found one badly damaged car smashed into a kiosk in the Jinnah Park, which lay opposite the consulate.

It was suspected that it was this car which had exploded.

But when the dust had settled, investigators found broken pieces of another car scattered all around and further on.

The badly twisted engine and other parts were lying in the park, about 100 meters away from the scene of the blast.

Officials said the debris was part of the car which had been used for the bombing.

Because of the damage, investigators have not yet been able to determine the make and model of the car.

Shock

The blast site is about half a mile away from the car-bomb attack of 8 May in which 14 people - including 11 French nationals - were killed.

Some of the injured, including two policemen who were on duty, told the BBC at a local hospital that they heard the explosion and fell unconscious.

Officials said it is too early to say who is involved in the attack which has shocked the diplomatic community.

The US consulate has always been seen to be a target for attack, which is why it maintains very tight security.

The second blast in little over a month is already being seen as a failure of the law enforcing agencies in bringing the situation under control and checking extremist forces in Karachi.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Helen Callaghan
"Police say they believe it was a suicide bomb"
Eyewitness Philip Sherwell of UK's Sunday Telegraph
"It is a scene of carnage"
Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

24 May 02 | South Asia
09 May 02 | South Asia
28 Mar 02 | South Asia
06 Jun 02 | South Asia
14 Jun 02 | South Asia
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