KARACHI: A powerful bomb exploded at a Shi'ite Muslim mosque packed with worshippers here yesterday, killing at least 13 people and wounding scores of others in a suspected suicide attack, police and hospital officials said.
President Gen Pervez Musharraf condemned the blast as a heinous act of terrorism'' and ordered an immediate investigation to trace the culprits.
The attack occurred shortly after 1pm at a mosque inside a government-run religious school, shattering windows and pocking the walls with shrapnel and splattered blood. Bits of flesh and pools of blood lay all around as rescue workers tended to the wounded.
The school, which houses students aged four to 18, has separate mosques for Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim worshippers. Witnesses said the school had let out early, as it normally does on Fridays. Most of the victims were adults who came to the mosque for prayers.
Dr Razar Ali said 12 dead were brought to the Civil Hospital, and 215 wounded, of whom 45 were still hospitalised. Most of the rest were released after treatment for minor injuries or had been transferred to other hospitals.
Another casualty and five more injured were taken to the city's Jinnah Hospital, an official there said on condition of anonymity.
Sadir Durrani, a police explosives expert at the site of the blast at the Sindh Madrassah tul Islam school, said he had found no timing or radio devices, indicating it may have been caused by a suicide bomber.
Chief investigator Manzoor Mughal said no crater was found at the blast point, suggesting a person was carrying the bomb. Several injured people had described a man in a black robe and black turban who was sitting near the column where the bomb exploded.
We are still investigating, but it seems like it was a suicide bombing,'' he said.
One of the men injured in the blast described the devastation.
I was inside the mosque for Friday prayers when a bomb exploded with a huge bang,'' Kalb e-Abbas, 23, said. Something hit my arm, and I saw blood all over my body.''
E-Abbas said he could hear the cries of the injured people around him before stumbling out of the building.
Aftab Sheikh, a senior politician responsible for law and order in Sindh province, where Karachi is located, blamed anti-state elements for the blast, but would not elaborate.
Sheikh said today's bomb attack was carried out by those people who were behind other terrorist attacks in Karachi.''
I condemn this attack, it was a barbaric act,'' he said.
Rescue officials piled bloodstained carpets outside the shattered mosque. AP