Pakistan Bomb Kills 11, Mostly
French Nationals

By Imran Maqbool

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 government.
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 on terrorism.
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 condition."
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.
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.


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