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Bomb Blast Kills At Least 11 Outside US Consulate in Karachi - 2002-06-14

In Pakistan, a powerful bomb has exploded outside the American consulate in the southern city of Karachi, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens of others.

U.S. and Pakistani officials say a car bomb exploded about 15 meters in front of the American consulate in the central part of Karachi. Officials believe the attack was the work of a suicide bomber, who was in the vehicle.

A woman and two policemen guarding the American consulate are among the dead. Doctors say some of the injured are seriously wounded.

The powerful explosion occurred around noon in Karachi. Rescue teams and ambulances rushed to the scene, and police sealed off the area around the consulate. The blast left a deep crater on the road near the U.S. mission and turned vehicles parked nearby into wrecks. Part of a heavily-reinforced wall around the consulate offices was blown out and windows in buildings in the vicinty of the consulate were shattered.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Mark Wentworth said no Americans were killed, but some consulate staffers were lightly injured. "An American Marine security guard and five Pakistani employees at the consulate sustained minor injuries when struck by flying debris," he said. "Many windows in the U.S. consulate have been blown out and the building has sustained structural damage."

The consulate was closed for normal business after the attack and most employees were sent home.

There are no immediate claims of responsibility.

This is the second such attack in a month in Pakistan's commercial center, Karachi. Eleven French nationals and two Pakistanis were killed in a suicide car bomb attack outside a luxury hotel in the city in May.

Officials suspect that bombing was carried out by extremist elements linked to the al-Qaida terror network. Pakistan's cooperation with the United States in the war on terror has outraged many Islamic groups in the country.

The United States and Britain have already reduced their diplomatic presence in Pakistan because of threat of terrorist attacks against their citizens. Fifteen foreigners, including Americans, have been killed in Pakistan in several incidents of violence this year.