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Suicide Bomber Kills 13 in Karachi - 2002-05-08

At least 13 people have died in a suspected suicide car bomb attack in Pakistan. The victims include 10 French nationals, two Pakistanis and the bomber. The early-morning bombing took place in the parking area of a five-star hotel in the southern city of Karachi. Police say the suicide attacker blew up his car alongside a Pakistani Navy bus, which was carrying mostly French workers. The powerful explosion destroyed the bus causing the high number of casualities.

Syed Kamal Shah is the provincial police chief. He says the Pakistani bus driver, a passerby woman and the bomber died in the attack.

"Initial investigation reveals that this was a suicidal bomber and he was there in the car. And, when he saw that everyone had occupied the vehicle, that is the time he exploded the bomb," the police chief said.

The French technicians killed in the attack were helping Pakistan build two submarines at the Karachi seaport. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Police chief Shah says police they have yet to determine the motives behind the attack. He says it could be the work of outlawed Islamic groups, which are angered at Pakistan's support to the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

"This could be a sabotage activity to convey a message to the foreigners that Karachi peace is disturbed," he said. "Then there are other motives. It could be somebody belonging to the proscribed organizations."

The attack comes at a time when authorities in Karachi have been struggling to stem political and religious violence that has hit the country's commercial center in recent days.

Wednesday's bombing is the second in Pakistan this year targeting foreign nationals. In March, a grenade attack on an international Protestant church in Islamabad killed five people. The wife and daughter of an American diplomat were among the victims.