KARACHI: The Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department on Tuesday said that a female suicide bomber was ostensibly responsible for the explosion outside a Chinese institute at the University of Karachi in which four people - including three Chinese nationals - were killed.
CCTV footage shows a lone woman wrapped in a chaddor standing at the entrance of the Confucius Institute as the van carrying the Chinese nationals arrives after which the explosion occurs.
CTD in-charge Raja Umar Khattab said that a female suicide bomber was responsible for the attack.
“It was difficult to target the vehicle with an improvised explosive device (IED), which is why they opted for a suicide attack,” he told reporters at the University of Karachi.
“They carried out reconnaisance before executing the suicide attack,” he said.
He also denied that a security lapse was responsible for the attack. “Thousands of students enter the university everyday. We can’t check their bags,” he said, adding that the walkthrough gate installed at the entrance doesn’t detect explosives.
Following the explosion, which took place at 2:07pm, the van carrying the Chinese nationals caught fire. The intensity of the blast also shattered windows of nearby buildings while the explosion was heard over a large radius.
Banned militant group Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack on social media and shared the image of a woman they say carried out the attack.
First female suicide bomber
The suicide attack in Karachi is the first confirmed instance of a planned attack executed by a female suicide bomber in Karachi.
This is the first such instance where we CCTV corroboration, said journalist Abbas Naqvi.
Back in 2000, a woman was used to take an explosive device inside a newspaper office in Karachi in which three people were killed.
“However, she was not a suicide bomber but a carrier,” clarified Naqvi. “She was coerced into carrying the explosives inside which was then detonated.”
Bomb disposal squad
The bomb disposal squad has confirmed the CTD’s finding that a suicide bomber carried out the attack.
“Around 3-4 kgs of explosives were used along with steel ball bearings,” it stated in its report, which is available with Aaj News.
“Body parts of the suicide bomber along with parts of her burqa have been retrieved.”
The evidence has been handed over to the authorities concerned, it concluded.
Earlier, Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon, speaking to the media at the site of the blast, said that it was too early to ascertain about the nature of the blast and the explosives used in it.
He confirmed that four people had been killed while four others - including one Chinese national, a Rangers personnel and a private security guard - were injured in the explosion.
“The three Chinese nationals killed in the explosion taught at the university. They lived on the KU campus and the incident took place as they were being transported to the institute from their residence,” he said.
Police, Rangers, the CTD and the bomb disposal squad are currently at the scene and collecting evidence, he added.
DIG East Muqaddas Haider had also confirmed earlier that three Chinese nationals, including two women and one man, were killed in the blast.
PM Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday paid a condolence visit to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad where he assured Chinese diplomats that those responsible for the attack would be “hunted down and given exemplary punishment”.
Chief minister seeks report
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered for the injured to be moved to Dow University hospital.
The Confucius Institute hosts programmes for educational and cultural promotion, which are funded and arranged by the Chinese International Education Foundation and formerly by Hanban, an organisation affiliated with the Chinese government.
The deceased have been identified as Huang Guiping, the institute’s director, and two others, Ding Mufang from Henan and Chen Sai from Xinjiang, who reportedly taught the Chinese language at the institute.
The van driver, identified as Khalid, was also killed in the explosion.
Another Chinese national and their guard were among the injured.