KARACHI - A high intensity blast in Karachi on Sunday claimed at least 45 lives and wounded more than 150 others in a Shia area, weeks after a bomb explosion killed more than 100 people in Quetta’s Hazara Town.

Police said that terrorists detonated a remote-controlled bomb in the highly populated area of Abbas Town, at Abul Hassan Ispahani Road. The blast hit close to an area dominated by minority Shias, senior police official Ghulam Shabir Sheikh told the media, though he said that the target of the attack was not immediately clear.

Witnesses said that the explosives laden vehicle was parked at the main entrance of the town where there were multi-storey buildings on both sides which collapsed. Law enforcement agencies and government rescuers reached the spot hours after the attack while residents of the area and rescuers of different private welfare organisations shifted the victims to different hospitals on their own.

Those killed included two women and two children. Ten dead bodies and 14 injured were brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital; 17 bodies and nine injured to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre; 6 dead and 80 injured to Agha Khan Hospital; one dead to Civil Hospital Karachi; 7 dead and 41 wounded to Liaqut National Hospital; and four bodies were brought to Patel Hospital.

The bam of the explosion was heard several kilometres from the site. Residents of the Rabia Flowers and Iqra City apartments were got stuck into the derbies while fire broke out in some of the apartments after the explosion. At least 50 shops and hundreds of flats were destroyed.

Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), Jafferia Alliance and other Shia organisations announced a strike on Monday while MQM, ANP and other political and non-political organisations announced day of mourning. ANP, All Karachi Tajir Itihad, Karachi Transport Ittihad and other bodies have supported the strike call. Some private schools’ associations have also announced that private schools will remain close on Monday.

Heavy contingents of police, Rangers and FC were deployed in nearby area of Mohatta Palace, in Clifton, due to the engagement ceremony of Sindh CM Advisor Sharmila Farooqui. Many high ups of the federal and provincial government, including Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf were present in the ceremony but no one visited the blast site till filling of this story.

However, an official press release said the PM suspended all his official engagements and remained in constant touch with law enforcement agencies and local administration to oversee the rescue operation, official sources said. He also met Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and directed him to ensure every help to the blast victims.

The PM condemned this despicable act of terrorism and appealed to public and private hospitals to extend all possible medical help to the injured persons. He announced that the federal government will pay all expenditure for the treatment of the injured. He ordered the provincial administration to submit a comprehensive report about the incident.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also condemned the incident and announced Rs1.5 million for the family of each dead and Rs1 million for each injured. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also condemned the Karachi bomb attack and expressed their grievance over the unfortunate incident. Through a handout, Punjab government announced to observe a day of mourning on Monday (today).

After the explosion, terrified residents of adjacent localities came out of their house, while women and children were seen crying. Tariq Jamshaid, a resident of Block 21, FB area, told that huge blaze and light was seen on the sky and thick black smoke billowed from the blast site as the bomb ripped through the buildings. Law enforcers avoided getting closer to the area because of violent reaction of the residents as some of them started aerial firing after the blast. However, later they made their way to the site.

CID SP Aslam Khan told the media that “we are doing our level best and terrorist will be arrested soon”. Police initially said that the IED was planted at a motorbike, but crime scene suggested that the huge quantity of explosives could not be managed on a bike. IGP Fayyaz Laghari said that terrorists might have used an explosive-laden vehicle; however, parts of any vehicle were yet to be found.

Following the blast the electricity PMT fixed near the blast site also exploded, plunging the whole area into darkness. Gas supply lines for the residential units were also ruptured, forcing the department concerned to cut the supply to avoid any further untoward incident. Panic, remorse and tension engulfed the metropolis after the blast, resulting in suspension of commercial activities in most parts of the city.