Pakistan: terror blast at US consulate

Gee, that didn’t take long, did it? CBS, March 2:

Police say at least one bomb near the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, killed four people and injured 49 others early Thursday.

Explosions ripped through the parking lot of the Marriott Hotel in Karachi, about 20 yards from the consulate gate, according to Karachi police official Mushtaq Shah.

Windows in the consulate, the hotel and other nearby buildings were shattered and at least ten cars were left in flames.

Police at first said there were two bombs, moments apart, but an hour later said the destruction might be the work of a single suicide bomber, and the second explosion that was reported might instead have been the fuel tank of a car in the parking lot blowing up as a result of the fire caused by the first bomb.

One man’s body was found behind a burned car; another body, also a man, was found in the wreckage of another vehicle. A third man’s body, with part of its head missing, was flung by one of the explosions onto the second story of the hotel’s exterior. The fourth fatality, a woman, died of her injuries shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital.

One of the dead is identified as a Pakistani paramilitary officer on security duty.

None of the victims have been linked to the consulate, according to Shah, who says both bombs were planted in cars.

Most of the injured – some of whom are reported to be seriously hurt – were in the hotel parking lot.

The blasts come as Pakistan braces for a Saturday visit from President Bush, whose impending arrival has not been welcomed by demonstrators who filled the streets of Karachi Tuesday, protesting the publication of Danish cartoons containing caricatures of Muhammad.

Some of the protesters denounced the planned Bush visit; others burned the American flag. One group held a banner blaming the U.S. president for both the publication of the caricatures and the Feb. 22nd attack in Iraq on the Shiite’s golden dome shrine in Samarra.

Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush are now in India – where tens of thousands turned out Tuesday to protest that leg of his South Asian trip – and are scheduled to arrive Saturday in Islamabad, Pakistan.

See our last post on Pakistan.