By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Twin bombings apparently targeting Shiite Muslims in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi also killed at least five members of a Christian family, including a pregnant woman, BosNewsLife established Wednesday, February 10.
One other Christian of the same family was injured and another remains missing, confirmed Muneer Ahmed Sheikh, head of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS). He said the explosive devices that killed at least 35 people and injured over 100 men, women and children, last week, February 5, were “controlled by cell phones.”
The BDS said that the first bomb with 10 kilograms of explosive materials blew up a bus ridden by Shiite Muslim mourners. A second bomb with a similar payload rocked Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital where the injured and dead from the previous blast arrived.
“I regret that our equipment failed to detect the explosive devices,” Sheikh said. “However we luckily discovered a third remote controlled bomb of 20 kilograms concealed in a television set at Jinnah Hospital.”
Minority Christians are increasingly caught up in religious violence and Islamic militant attacks in Pakistan, according to rights watchers.
FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED
Ashraf Rehmat, a Christian resident of Karachi’s impoverished Ibrahim Haydri slum district, told BosNewsLife that five family members were killed in the blasts, including his heavily pregnant sister-in-law Rosy Manzoor.
“Her time to deliver had come. Therefore her husband Manzoor Masih took her to the Jinnah Hospital maternity ward. We were ofcourse unaware of the destruction to come.”
Rehmat said besides Rosy Manzoor several people accompanying her were killed including her husband, and his brother, Manzoor Masih, their eldest daughter Carroll Manzoor, and his two married sisters Nirmal Nadeem and Parveen Basharat.
“I recognized their human remains, although their bodies were badly burnt and mutilated,” Rehmat explained. His cousin Marylyn was rushed “to a private hospital for the indispensable treatment of her burns.” He said his sister Parveen Basharat’s daughter Rebecca, 7, remains missing.
Funeral services for the five Christians killed in the attacks have been held at the local Saint Patrick’s Church, Rehmat added. They were buried in Karachi’s Saddr Christian Cemetery.
MORE CHRISTIAN VICTIMS
The family was among the latest Christian victims killed in violence in Pakistan. At least 130 Christians were killed in 2009, the worst year for Christians in the last decade, said the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).
Pakistan’s government has pledged to tackle extremism, but its efforts were hampered Wednesday, February 10, by another attack in northwest Pakistan where officials said a suicide bomb blast on a tribal police patrol killed at least 18 people, including 11 officers.
The bomber reportedly detonated his explosives near a police vehicle on the main highway in the Khyber tribal agency, one of the busiest transportation routes into Afghanistan.
Taliban militants frequently stage attacks on local Pakistani security forces, as well as on NATO trucks carrying supplies for troops in Afghanistan.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which also injured at least 15 people, officials said.