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Investigators believe shrine blasts were suicide attacks

shrine blasts investigationKARACHI: As the death toll rose to nine a day after the twin blasts at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, officials of federal and provincial investigation agencies on Friday arrived to the same conclusion that the attacks were carried out by two bombers wearing suicide belts.

The investigators said that some major evidences such as a striker sleeve, which was used in suicide bombings to trigger off blasts, had been collected. They added that a total of five to eight kgs of explosive material was used in the two blasts.

As many as 65 people were wounded in the twin blasts at the shrine where hundreds of pilgrims had gathered to pay their respect to the Sufi-saint on Thursday evening. A few hours following the twin blasts, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s deputy spokesman Eshahullah Eshan called a BBC reporter to own the responsibility of the blasts.

On Friday, one of the wounded victims who had suffered a pellet injury in the head succumbed to his wounds at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, sources in the hospital said.

While officials of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) have denied reports that the identity of one of the suicide bombers has been established, well-placed sources told Dawn that law-enforcers had collected DNA samples of a family suspected to be related to one of the suicide bombers.

The sources said that a family looking for their relatives among the blast victims had turned up at the hospital on Thursday night. Though the family denied to have identified the remains of one of the suspected suicide bomber in front of the police, the investigators suspected that they were related. Subsequently, samples for a DNA test had been collected, the sources added.

Officials of different investigating agencies, including the CID and special investigation group of the Federal Investigation Agency, visited the shrine on Friday to examine the crime-scene.

A senior officer of the FIA attributed the less number of casualties to low intensity of the explosive used in the blasts. “It seems that between one and three kilos of explosive material was used in the first blast, which was comparatively of low intensity, while four to five kilo of explosives was used in the second blast,” he said.

Suicide belts

The FIA officer said the evidence collected from the crime-scene showed that both were suicide bombings. “Considering the impact of the blasts it seemed that instead of jackets, suicide belts were employed in the two blasts,” he said, adding that suicide belts carried comparatively less amount of explosives than what jackets contained.

Citing another reason for using suicide belts, another official associated with the investigation said: “It appears that suicide belts were employed in order to avoid getting detected during frisking by security officials at the entrance.”

However, in conformity of the previous suicide bombings, ball bearings were used in the twin bombings, he said.

“A detailed examination of the crime-scene and eyewitness account showed that the blasts were in fact suicide bombings,” the officer added. He said the type of the explosive used in the blasts would become clear when the result of samples sent for examination would be received.

Previously, suicide bombings were carried out in Karachi during the homecoming procession of Benazir Bhutto on Oct 18, 2007 which left 150 people dead. In the Ashura procession blast and twin bombings on the Chehlum of Imam Hussain (AS), explosive devices were planted in a box and motorbikes, respectively.

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