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Blast Kills at Least 8 Near Danish Embassy in Pakistan

A large car bomb blast outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan's capital has killed at least 8 people and wounded dozens of others. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports on the attack in an upscale Islamabad neighborhood.

Witnesses say a car parked just outside the embassy gates detonated in the early afternoon, tearing through the outer security walls, wrecking nearby vehicles and demolishing security posts of the Danish mission. The blast littered the suburban street with debris and left a one-meter-deep crater in the asphalt.

The main embassy building was largely intact, but a United Nation's-funded office across the street from the embassy sustained significant damage. Police say most of the casualties appeared to be Pakistani police and private security guards posted outside of the compounds.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller immediately condemned the blast. He told Danish media that the embassy attack targeted the cooperation between Denmark and Pakistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir visited the scene and vowed to boost security around foreign missions.

"I think the Pakistani nation feels very ashamed today as incidents such as these certainly damage the fair image of my country," he said.

Cartoons published in Danish newspapers in 2005 that satirized the Prophet Muhammad provoked widespread protests in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoons in February. In April, Danish embassies in Muslim countries increased security because of concerns about another backlash.

South of Islamabad, in Multan, about 200 Islamic students were protesting the cartoons when they learned of Monday's blast. The demonstrators praised attack, shouting "God is great."

The blast was the second targeting foreigners in Islamabad. In March, a blast at an Italian restaurant in the city killed one foreigner and wounded several others. The Danish mission is located in a wealthy area of Islamabad that includes diplomat residences and foreign organizations. Many other large diplomatic missions, including the American Embassy, are located in a gated, high-security area of the city, several kilometers away from Monday's blast.