Pakistan interior minister says group identified in US consulate bombing

Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider on Sunday claimed that the group responsible for the June 14 car-bomb explosion outside the US consulate in the southern port city of Karachi had been identified.

In a chat with journalists, the minister stopped short of disclosing the name of the group. However, he promised, the government would make an announcement to the effect in the next few days.

The gang behind the blast had been identified and investigators were moving in the right direction, he added. "But I would not name the group at this stage," the interior minister said without elaborating.

Moin believed the terrorists responsible for the consulate bombing were apparently 'in league' with those who staged a murderous suicide attack on May 8 outside a luxury hotel. Fourteen people, including 11 French engineers, had been killed in last month's blast close to the Sheraton Hotel.

The minister warned that foreigners might be the target of more terrorist attacks till the last man suspected of involvement in such activities was arrested.

The consulate bomb, he believed, was set off by a suicide bomber driving a Suzuki pickup truck, not by a driver's car and triggered by remote control. A number of suspects - including seven Arabs and as many Pakistanis - have already been arrested for investigation.

He said the investigators had ruled out the possibility that it was a remotely-detonated bomb placed in a car belonging to a nearby driving school, driven by an unsuspecting instructor.

In reply to a question about the pace of the probe into the bombing, Moinuddin Haider reckoned that 30-40 percent of the investigation work had been done. FBI experts were corroborating the findings of police, he said.

Wire news agencies say that the investigators are exploring the possibility that a third unidentified car could have been used in the bombing and not those two vehicles that remained the focus of the probe earlier, a top government official said.

Small pieces of a third car have been found at the site of the explosion, Brig. Mukhtar Ahmed, home secretary of Pakistani southern Sindh province, said. "Investigations by the police show that there is a strong possibility that the third car carried the explosives."

Ahmed said no formal arrests had been made so far. But police sources say that several people, including members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and some Arabs have been detained.

According to a report published in The Washington Post, investigators now believe the June 14 explosion outside the US Consulate here was caused by a huge fertilizer bomb loaded aboard a pickup driven by a suicide bomber.

FBI experts estimate the bomb weighed 500 pounds. It was so powerful that it reduced the pickup to pieces so small and scattered that they were initially taken for shards of another vehicle, a Toyota Corolla owned by a driving school. Investigators now believe that car, which carried five women, was merely near the explosion, not the cause of it.

The breakthrough came after close examination of the bomb crater on Abdullah Haroon Road outside the consulate. The crater yielded engine parts that duplicated those recovered from the Corolla elsewhere, the Post said.

Safiullah Gul PRAVDA.Ru Pakistan

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