1 dead, 11 hurt in Pakistan explosion
Five Americans among wounded at restaurant
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A bomb exploded in the back garden of an Italian restaurant crowded with foreigners in Pakistan's capital yesterday, killing a Turkish woman and wounding 11 other people, including five Americans, police said.
Personnel from the US and British embassies were among the wounded. It appeared to be the first attack targeting foreigners in a recent wave of violence in Pakistan.
A list of victims was posted in the reception area at Islamabad's Poly Clinic. The five US citizens were listed as undergoing surgery. It said one Japanese, one Canadian, one Briton, and three Pakistanis were wounded. Foreigners crowded around the list; some burst into tears.
Zahid Janjua, a student at the city's International Islamic University, was dining nearby at another restaurant. He helped bring victims to waiting ambulances, staining his clothes with their blood.
"It was chaos. Broken tables and chairs lay scattered across the lawn. There were eight or nine people lying injured and crying for help," he said.
Officials said the bomb was planted in the garden or thrown over a nearby wall of the Luna Caprese restaurant, a popular socializing spot for expatriates in Islamabad.
Pakistani Interior Secretary Kamal Shah confirmed the Turkish woman's death. A police officer at the scene initially told reporters that two people had died, but Shah and the city police chief later said there was only one fatality.
The blast rang out across downtown Islamabad about 8:45 p.m. local time. Fire engines and police raced to the scene.
Local television footage showed a wounded man, looking dazed, rushing past the camera with blood streaming from his forehead.
After inspecting the destruction, city police chief Shahid Nadeem Baloch told reporters that 11 people were wounded: eight foreigners and three Pakistanis - a couple dining and a waiter.
Baloch gave no further details of their identities. None of the wounded people was believed to be in critical condition.
"There is a crater in the ground which suggests that it was a planted bomb, but we need to investigate further," Baloch said.
Shah said a bomb could have been thrown over the wall.
"There were US Embassy personnel among the injured. They are receiving medical treatment and their families are being notified," embassy spokeswoman Kay Mayfield said. She was unable to confirm the number of personnel wounded and their nationalities.
The British Foreign Office reported that a staff member from the British High Commission had been "lightly injured" in the blast. The man was being treated in a hospital, a spokesman for the foreign office said, speaking anonymously in line with department policy.
The restaurant is frequented by foreigners and was crowded with a group of Americans and other foreign nationals yesterday when the blast went off, said restaurant employee Haji Mal, who was injured.
"I was working in the kitchen when the blast took place on the lawn. Something hit me on the shoulder," Mal said.
The bomb struck two days before Pakistan's new Parliament was set to convene tomorrow. On Tuesday, two suicide bombings killed 24 people and wounded more than 200 in the eastern city of Lahore.
With such attacks on the rise, a growing number of Pakistanis are questioning US-backed President Pervez Musharraf's approach to countering Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Musharraf's opponents say punitive military action has only fueled the violence.
Last month's parliamentary elections were overshadowed by the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The winning parties have pledged to form a new counterterrorism strategy when they form a new coalition government.
When the National Assembly, or Parliament, convenes for the first time since the election, Musharraf is expected to invite the winners to form a coalition, though it could try to force him from power.
More than 500 people have been killed in Pakistan this year in terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings.