11/15/2005, 00.00
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Car bomb kills six in Karachi

A fast food of the american brand Kentucky Fried Chicken and a nearby bank branch were destroyed.

Karachi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A car bomb has exploded outside an outlet of a US fast food chain in Pakistan's largest city Karachi, killing at least six people and wounding several others, police and rescue workers said. The vehicle blew up outside a KFC restaurant, Karachi police chief Mushtaq Shah said.

"It was a high-intensity explosion and its noise was heard in several parts of the city. It appears that the KFC was the target," Mr Shah said. Six bodies were removed from the scene, according to Muhammad Sabri, a senior official from the Edhi Welfare Trust rescue group.

The fast food outlet and a nearby bank branch were destroyed. Many other vehicles were on fire and the windows of neighbouring buildings were shattered. "As soon as I had stepped out the bus, I suddenly heard a loud explosion and I sat on the ground. There was smoke rising everywhere," Muhammad Ramzan, who works in a nearby government office building, said. Police quickly sealed off the area around the site, which is close to the upmarket Sheraton and Pearl Continental hotels.

The blast coincided with a hearing in a Karachi court of an appeal against a death sentence handed to a Islamic extremist for the kidnapping and murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. British-born Sheikh Omar was convicted of involvement in Mr Pearl's abduction and given the death penalty in June 2002. His appeal has been pending for more than two years.

The blast also came a day after President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan had not suffered a terrorist attack on Western interests like last week's hotel bombings in Jordan for more than a year.

Six employees of another KFC branch in the volatile city were killed on May 30 when the building was torched by a mob of angry minority Shiite Muslims. Three burned to death and three froze to death after seeking refuge in a chiller room. The attack was in response to another on a nearby Shiite mosque, allegedly carried out by a suspected Sunni militant group with links to Al Qaeda, which left five people dead.

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