Suicide car bombing on Danish mission kills eight in Pakistan (Third Lead)

June 2nd, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad/Copenhagen, June 2 (DPA) At least eight people, including two policemen and a foreigner, were killed and around two dozen others were injured in a suicide car bombing at the main entrance of the Danish embassy here Monday afternoon, officials said. The blast partially damaged the diplomatic mission’s building and an adjacent office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in a posh Islamabad neighbourhood.

Asmatullah Marwat, chief of the state-run rescue service, said his staff had moved eight bodies to two hospitals in the city. The nationality of the foreigner was not yet confirmed.

But Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmad disputed that version and confirmed only four deaths. “Two policemen are among the dead,” he said, insisting that no foreigner was among the dead or injured.

Local authorities said they suspected the attack was carried out by Islamic extremists enraged by repeated publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons in Danish newspapers.

“We had reports for the last six months that the Danish embassy could be targeted,” an intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told DPA.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller condemned the bombing as “completely unacceptable” and called for a special meeting of cabinet ministers.

The minister told broadcaster TV2 that there were “fanatics and terrorists out there and we are doing what we can to protect ourselves”.

The Danish foreign ministry revised its travel advisory for Pakistan Monday, urging Danish nationals to avoid unnecessary trips to the South Asian nation. Danish nationals in the country were advised to be on the alert.

Naheed Irshauddin, a spokeswoman at the Denmark Consulate General, told DPA that the consulate in the southern port city of Karachi requested more security following Monday’s deadly bombing in Islamabad.

Islamabad police chief Asghar Gardizi said “initial investigations indicate that a suicide bomber detonated the explosives planted in the car”.

The blast was so powerful that it propelled the car’s engine more than 300 feet from the blast site, and left a crater one metre deep and two metres wide near the embassy gate.

“After the explosion I rushed to the main exit and there were pieces of broken glass, metal, wood and blood. There was a security guard lying in a pool of blood,” UNDP employee Munawar Fiazs said.

The cartoons of Mohammed published in Danish and Norwegian newspapers in late 2005 sparked violent riots in early 2006 in several Muslim nations including Pakistan, where a dozen people were shot dead by the police.

The newspapers reprinted the caricatures on February 13 to defend their freedom of speech after a plot to murder the cartoon’s artist was uncovered. The publication triggered renewed nationwide protests.

Amid threats from Islamic extremists, the Danish embassy had downgraded the mission and re-located its diplomatic staff in recent months.

The Norwegian embassy, located a few hundred metres from the Danish mission, was closed down immediately after the incident.

The Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan told NRK TV that no Norwegians witnessed the bombing and no Norwegian nationals had been injured in the attack.

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