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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 10:29 GMT
Karachi consulate attack kills three
Police officer looks through the rubble
The three victims appear to have died before the blast
Three people have been killed in an attack at the Macedonian consulate in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi, police said.

The dead - all Pakistani - had been tied up, gagged and killed before an explosion at the office, and doctors said the throats of two of the victims had been slit.

One of the men killed was a security guard, but there were no indications as to the identities of the other man and woman.

Policeman surveys the damage inside the villa
No one has yet claimed responsibility
It is not clear who is behind the incident, but a local police chief told the French news agency AFP it "appeared to be an act of terrorism".

The blast occurred at about 0100 on Thursday morning (2000 Wednesday GMT) in the office of the honorary consul general of Macedonia in an upmarket residential area in Karachi.

The consulate building was severely damaged in the explosion.

Macedonia

The honorary consul for Macedonia, primarily a commercial post, is the brother of Pakistan's former caretaker prime minister, Moeen Qureshi.

The consul, Bilal Qureshi, is quoted by AFP as saying: "I have no enmity with anybody. I don't think that it has anything to do with me personally."

The Inspector General of the police in Karachi, Kamal Shah, said that police would investigate the incident from all angles.

One line of inquiry may be whether the incident was in retaliation for the killing of seven Pakistanis by Macedonian police earlier this year.

Macedonian police killed seven Pakistanis in a gunbattle north of the country's capital Skopje in March.

The Macedonian Government accused them of planning terrorist attacks on Western embassies and Macedonian officials.

But questions were subsequently raised as to whether the Pakistanis were in actual fact illegal immigrants.

Karachi is a notoriously violent city. Fifteen Pakistanis and 11 French nationals died in suicide car bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants earlier in the year.

Gunmen killed seven Pakistani Christians at a charity in Karachi on 25 September.

The American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi in January and later killed.

See also:

16 Oct 02 | South Asia
25 Sep 02 | South Asia
12 Sep 02 | South Asia
08 May 02 | South Asia
08 May 02 | South Asia
31 May 02 | South Asia
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