- KARACHI (Reuters) - A suspected
suicide bomber in a car killed nine French and two Pakistani nationals
on Wednesday outside a top hotel in Pakistan's volatile southern city of
Karachi, police and hospital officials said.
- The bomb exploded at around 8 a.m. (10 p.m. EDT), ripping
through a navy bus as it was picking up the French nationals from the Sheraton
Hotel, where they were staying while maintaining submarines for the Pakistani
- Police said more than 20 people were wounded by the blast,
which reduced the bus to a blackened skeleton and scattered body parts
across the street. Rescue teams carried bloodied survivors away on stretchers.
- Officials said members of the touring New Zealand cricket
team, who were staying at the Pearl Continental Hotel across the street,
were safe. New Zealand cricket authorities in Wellington immediately called
off the tour.
- "It was apparently a suicide bombing," city
police chief Asad Jehangir told Reuters.
- There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attack in the city where slain U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped
earlier this year while investigating a story linked to the U.S.-led war
- A doctor at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre put
the death toll at 11. "We have received 11 dead bodies so far and
17 injured people," he said. "Those who are injured are in critical
- The French Foreign Ministry in Paris described the blast
as a car bomb and said the French nationals worked for the department of
naval construction, which is attached to France's defense ministry.
- WAITING TO BOARD BUS
- A foreign diplomat in Pakistan said the bomb exploded
in a car driven alongside the bus. Witnesses said some of those killed
were waiting to board the bus. Others were already on board.
- Police described the car as a 1974 Toyota Corolla. Where
it exploded, there was a shallow crater in the road.
- Pakistan's military president, Pervez Musharraf, threw
his weight behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism and the fight against al
Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, a decision that angered
some Muslim groups in the country.
- A grenade attack in March killed five people, including
the wife and daughter of an American diplomat, in a church mainly used
by foreign nationals in the capital Islamabad.
- Karachi, a port city of 14 million people and Pakistan's
business capital, also has a history of religious and ethnic rivalry between
Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.
- The Pakistan stock market, which is based in Karachi,
fell three percent after the blast.
- Witnesses said Wednesday's explosion smashed windows
of a restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel, overturning tables and littering
starched white tablecloths with debris.
- Members of the New Zealand cricket team were taking breakfast
across the street by their hotel swimming pool at the time.
- New Zealand cricket officials responded by calling off
the test tour.
- "I have made a decision to immediately cancel the
remainder of New Zealand's cricket test tour of Pakistan," NZ Cricket
chief executive Martin Snedden told a news conference.
- "I will now make an arrangement for the team to
immediately fly out of Pakistan and return home to New Zealand."
- Pakistan thrashed New Zealand in the first test in Lahore.
The New Zealand team was due to leave Pakistan after the second test, which
had been scheduled to start later on Wednesday.