KARACHI - A suicide bomber Thursday rammed an explosives-laden pickup truck into Rangers headquarters in a northern suburb of Karachi, causing a huge explosion that killed three people and wounded at least 23 others.The attack on the complex of paramilitary force, which is actively helping police to fight criminals and terrorists in this largest city of the country, came at around 7am in the morning when many residents were either asleep or just had got up, and offices were yet to open.The attacker collided the mini-truck against the main gate of Wing 72, Sachal Headquarters of Sindh Rangers, situated in Block-B of North Nazimabad. The flatbed pickup truck was loaded with up to 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of explosives, said Karachi District West DIG Javed Odho.Rangers spokesman Major Sibtain told the media three of their soldiers had been martyred and 18 others wounded. Senior police official Khurram Waris said that four civilians and a police officer were among the wounded.The loud blast was heard over miles, even in Golimar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Federal B Area, Liaquatabad and North Karachi. It badly damaged a portion of the headquarters’ building and shattered glasses in other parts of the building. Other buildings located nearby, including the offices of KESC, PTC and the Hanif Hospital, were also damaged.The nearby schools announced closures because panic gripped the citizens, especially the residents of North Nazimabad area. Fire also erupted in the building following the blast which was extinguished by at least three fire tenders. KESC administration immediately suspended the electricity supply to avoid any further damage in some accident.The entire locality was cordoned off soon after the blast and the media personnel and the citizens were barred from entering the blast site. Rescuers from different welfare associations reached the site and shifted the victims to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), where doctors pronounced two Rangers personnel dead. They were Lance Naik Khalid Mehmood, who belonged to Toba Tek Singh, Punjab and sepoy Abdul Razzak, who was from Umarkot, Sindh.Later, another Ranger, sepoy Imran Wali, who belonged to Ghizer area of Gilgit Baltistan, succumbed to his injuries during treatment. The deceased personnel were on the guard duty at the headquarters’ gate. The injured Rangers included Farooq, Anwar, Ghulam Mustafa, Nadir Khan, Wali Khan, Nasir Ali and Abid Hayat who were later moved to PNS Shifa Hospital.A police inspector, Wajid Ali, who lives in the same area and was passing from there at the time of the blast, and three citizens namely Faisal, Nazeer and Tariq were still admitted at the ASH. Doctor Saleem Siddique, Medico Legal Officer at ASH, said that the injured sustained explosive and burn injuries as pellets had not hit any of them. Bomb disposal squad officials said that TNT could have been used in the explosive material which caused fire after the explosion.
DIG Javed Odho said that it was a suicide attack and only the tight security measures in force at the base had prevented major loss of life. “It seems it was a suicide attack. The vehicle exploded before the gate of Rangers’ complex because it could not enter inside due to high security,” Fayyaz Lagahari said. Odho said that the chassis and registration numbers of the vehicle used in the attack were fake.Two suspects were also taken into custody from the hospital and the blast site who were reportedly filming the injured Rangers personnel but the officials concerned neither confirmed their detention nor denied it. When contacted, FIA Special Services Group (SIG) Deputy Director Abdul Shakoor Memon said that the samples of bomber’s body and the explosive material had been sent to laboratory for examination. He said that detailed reports about the stuff would help ascertain the identity of the group behind the attack.Karachi is in the grip of a long-running wave of sectarian, ethnic and political violence and Thursday’s attack comes as the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case on Karachi violence, has repeatedly urged the police and other security agencies to take effective action against the criminals and terrorists in the city. Declaring their present efforts highly insufficient, the apex court has recently asked the authorities to cleanse the city of the Taliban and illegal foreigners.A major political force in the city, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is also urging the government to tackle the area’s Taliban elements. MQM has called an unofficial national “referendum” next week to ask voters whether they want Pakistan to follow the ideology of the Taliban or the vision for the country imagined by its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.