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19 killed, 45 injured in Karachi explosion
Initial reports suggest that armed men raided a gambling den and threw explosive material.
Karachi: At least 19 people were killed and around 45 injured in an explosion at an illegal gambling den in Pakistan's commercial capital, which was also attacked by some armed men, in one of the city's old areas, Ghas Mandi.
The health minister of the Sindh province, Sagheer Ahmed put the number of casualties at 16 but "Express" news channel reported 19 people had been killed in the explosion.
A senior police official of the area, Iqbal Mehmood told reporters that initial investigations indicated that the assailants had planted a timer explosive device under a table in the club which is located in the huge parking lot of an old residential building, Zahid apartments.
"It appears to be a planted bomb which it went off also set off shrapnels killing and injuring people," Mehmood said.
Initial reports suggested that armed men raided the club and threw hand grenades and other explosive material causing extensive damage and causalities.
But city police chief told reporters the attack was carried out after the explosion shook everyone inside the outside the club.
"Several people suffered knife wounds as some of the attackers carried knives and also lobbed some hand grenades," one survivor carrying wound marks on his face said.
Leghari said the club was operating upfront as the Birch bridge club but the owners ran a illegal rummy club that was frequented by some very influential people.
"In the past in fact last September police raided the club but the owners went to the court and got relief," Leghari said. The place is located close to Lyari, which is the main constituency of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.
Geo News reported the club was operating under the patronage of some underworld elements as well. Ahmed Chennai who heads the citizens police liaison cell said the club was known as one of the biggest rummy clubs in the region.
"It had seating capacity for around 100 people at one time and was operated round the clock," he said.
Chenai admitted that it would not be possible for the rummy club to operate without the patronage of law enforcement agencies.
"It is unfortunate that such an illegal club was being run from within the premises of a residential building," he added.
The health minister said many of the injured had been wounded in the lower part of their bodies due to the shrapnels and the condition of some of them was critical.
Police didn't rule out the possibility of a enmity between underworld gangs being the reason for the explosion.
The Ghas Mandi area has in recent times been the site of clashes between gangs and has seen a increasing presence of the Sunni Tehreek a religious party.
The blast comes just few days after armed men lobbed grenades at the Rainbow centre in the bustling Saddar area and which is the largest market for audio and video CDs in the country.
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