Suicide bomber kills nine French defence workers

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber blew up a bus in Karachi today, killing nine French defence workers and the Pakistani driver. The blast injured around 20 other people, 16 of them French, and an 11th person, believed to be the suicide bomber also was killed.

A suicide bomber blew up a bus in Karachi today, killing nine French defence workers and the Pakistani driver. The blast injured around 20 other people, 16 of them French, and an 11th person, believed to be the suicide bomber also was killed.

The 45–seat bus was parked outside the Sheraton Hotel when the bomber drove his car laden with explosives alongside. The bomb tore a large crater in the road and destroyed many vehicles.

No one claimed responsibility for the killing, but suspicion fell on militant Islamic groups angry at President Pervez Musharraf's support for US action in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The French dead were engineers building a second submarine that Pakistan had bought from France, Pakistani government officials said. They were working at the Karachi seaport for a state–owned French marine construction company, the French foreign ministry said in Paris.

Police said the explosion appeared to have been caused by a second vehicle and was likely to be a suicide bomber.

"We have recovered a charred body from a car," said Sindh provincial police chief Sayed Kamal Shah.

The New Zealand and Pakistani cricket teams cancelled the second Test, which was due to start today. The teams were staying in a hotel across the street from the hotel.

Jeff Crowe, Manager of the New Zealand team, told reporters they are going home.

"People were screaming in the hotel and I saw number of dead people lying on the road. It was horrific," said Pakistan cricket captain Waqar Younis. The fourth–floor room of Pakistani cricket opener Shahid Afridi was strewn with glass.

Windows of several hotels and buildings in the area were blown out by the explosion.

"Thank God I was downstairs having my breakfast," Afridi said. "Had I been 10 minutes late for the breakfast, I could have been badly hurt in the room."

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