Thousands attend funeral as death toll rises to 31

KARACHI: Thousands of people Saturday attended the funeral of 14 people killed in Friday’s double bomb attack in Karachi, as the death toll from the assault rose overnight to 31.

“Six more people died overnight, raising the death toll to 31,” provincial government spokesman Jameel Soomro told AFP.

He said at least 170 wounded people were being treated at various hospitals around Karachi.

At a funeral Saturday for some of those killed, thousands of mourners beat their chests and cried loudly as the bodies of 14 victims were brought to a Karachi sports field.

Pakistani TV channels broadcast live footage from the venue, showing men and women clad in black and carrying black flags, beating their chests and chanting slogans of “Ya Hussein, Ya Hussein.”

“More than 10,000 people attended the funeral of the 14 deceased,” said a local police official, Javed Mehr, who was deployed at the ground.

Mehr told AFP that “the entire area was sealed off by police and paramilitary rangers to avoid any untoward incident.”

Police and paramilitary rangers patrolled streets and sensitive areas and Mehr said security had been stepped up at all hospitals and sensitive areas around Karachi, which has been swept by political violence in recent months.

Most shops in the sprawling city of 18 million people were closed and public transport was off the roads as several thousand mourners gathered at funerals of some of the victims of the two bombs.

Paramilitary spokesman Maj. Aurang Zeb said security forces were on maximum alert at the funeral in the Malir area of the city.

The first attack on Friday killed 12 Shias, followed hours later by a blast at a hospital where the wounded were being treated which killed 13 people.

“It looks like there’s no government in Pakistan,” said Syed Shabbir Hussain, who lost a cousin in the first blast on Friday.

“They always say that there are militants here, and that they will attack. And then they attack, but the police and the government do nothing,” he said at his cousin’s funeral.

Police had initially suspected that the two attacks in Karachi were carried out by suicide bombers but later said the devices were planted. A third bomb, defused at the hospital, was similar in type, indicating just one group was involved.

Senior police investigator Raja Umer Khattab said the Jundullah (Army of God) militant group was behind the attacks.

“This is the same group that carried out the Ashura attack,” he said, referring to a bomb attack at a Shia procession in late December that killed 43 people.

Khattab said some arrests had been made after the December attack but police were hunting for more members.

“We have arrested four members of this group but there are still 12 to 14 militants of this group left, who are planning these attacks,” he said.

The MQM has announced three days of mourning to remember those who lost their lives in the double bombing.

The Jaffria alliance has also called for a citywide strike against the horrifying incident.

The head of the Jaffria Alliance, Allama Abbas Komeli has demanded that the government provide compensation to the victims’ families.

Poltical parites, including the MQM and the ANP have urged the people of Karachi to exercise restraint following the carnage.

Ulema from different schools of thought have strongly condemnned the blast and also announced a mourning period.

The Shia Ulema Council gave a call for mourning soon after the second blast at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, and appealed to the masses to keep their mourning peaceful and not to get provoked by the fresh series of attacks on processions.

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