Residents and rescue workers gather at the site of a bomb
blast in a residential area in Karachi. REUTERS/Akhtar
A suspected suicide bomber has attacked Shi'ite Muslims
as they were leaving a mosque in Pakistan's commercial capital,
killing at least 45 people, in another signal Sunni militants
are escalating sectarian attacks.
"It was a powerful blast on a congested Shi'ite-dominated
area," senior police official Shabir Ahmad Sheikh.
Senior city official Hashim Raza said at least 45 people had
been killed and 149 wounded in the blast in Pakistan's
Military offensives and U.S. drone strikes against the
Taliban in Pakistan have reduced the number of suicide
attacks on government and military targets over the past
But Sunni groups, most prominently Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ),
have escalated attacks against Shi'ites, who they believe are
Bombings targeting Shi'ites have killed nearly 200 people in
the city of Quetta alone since the start of the year.
In 2012, sectarian attacks and clashes climbed by 47 percent
to 208, according to the Pak Institute For Peace Studies, a
prominent Pakistani think tank.
While the Quetta carnage grabbed world attention, a Reuters
inquiry into a lesser known spate of murders in Karachi
suggests the violence is taking on a volatile new dimension
as a small number of Shi'ites fight back.
Pakistan's Western allies have traditionally been fixated on
the challenge posed to the nuclear-armed state by Taliban
militants battling the army in the highlands on the Afghan
But a cycle of tit-for-tat killings on the streets of Karachi
points to a new type of threat: a campaign by LeJ and allied
Pakistani anti-Shi'ite groups to rip open sectarian
fault-lines in the city of 18 million people.
Pakistani intelligence agents say the LeJ has become a major
security threat in Pakistan, which is also struggling with a
fragile economy, dilapidated infrastructure and widespread
Shi'ite frustrations are rising with each blast. Shi'ites
fired weapons in the air on Sunday night in Karachi, a
bustling metropolis plagued by ethnic and political violence
"The explosion was so massive it jolted the entire area,"
said witness Ali Reza. "Two flats and nearby shops caught
fire after the explosion and balconies of various buildings
Another witness, Muhammad Kazim, said women and children who
were shopping nearby were wounded.