20 blasts hit bank branches in 16 Sindh towns
SUKKUR/HYDERABAD: Several people, including a policeman, were injured when several blasts rocked various cities of Sindh, including Karachi, on Wednesday. In Hyderabad, four low-intensity bombs exploded one after another at ATM booths of four branches of the National Bank of Pakistan located in Anaj Mandi, Fatima Jinnah Road, Naseem Nagar and Latifabad No.7 on Wednesday morning. Six people were injured. The CMO of Civil Hospital, Hyderabad, Dr Anwar Arain, said six injured were brought to the hospital. One of them, Muhammad Munshi, a resident of Kotri, was undergoing surgery while the others were discharged after first aid. Bashir Ahmad and his son Asghar Ali were injured while they were walking past an NBP branch in the Market area. Another person Shakil Ahmad was hit by glass shards outside the Fatima Jinnah Road branch of the NBP.
“The terrorists only targeted the ATM machine rooms. The roof of a branch in Latifabad caved in while documents and furniture were burnt,” he said. The bombs caused damage to the booths of ATMs at the NBP branches in Hyderabad. The bombs exploded with a huge bang one after another, starting from 5:40am, residents of the localities said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Hyderabad, Haseeb Baig, said the first of the planted devices went off at around 5:30am in the ATM room of Latifabad Unit 7 branch and the rest followed. Meanwhile, blasts also rocked Kotri, Dadu, Badin, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Qazi Ahmed Shahdadkot, Thatta, Ranipur, Khairpur Nathan Shah and Tando Mohammad Khan areas of Sindh.
On rumours of a bomb in the building of the National Bank’s main branch in Khairpur, the bomb squad staff along with police and paramilitary staff cordoned off the bank and ordered its staff and clients to immediately vacate the site. Reports said that the announcement created panic and fear. The bomb squad searched the premises, declared it clear and allowed the bank operations to resume.
In Ghotki, an explosion caused by a cracker at a railway track near here damaged three-feet of the track. Meanwhile, the Jaffar Express, travelling to Sindh from the Punjab, was stopped. Officials of the railways reached the affected area where the rescue efforts were under way, police said.
In Jamshoro, another explosion was reported at a branch of the bank. In charge Bomb Disposal Squad Saleem Vistro said the terrorists used improvised devices for the blasts. He said the devices used in the blast weighed around one kilogramme each. “They are similar to the ones used by that group in the past,” he added.
Meanwhile, the first blast in the NBP Main Branch situated on the Sakrand Road, Nawabshah, occurred at 5:40am. The device was planted by the side of the main gate, which shattered the glass gate, while the guardroom remained safe but the guard on duty received minor injuries. The false ceiling of the main hall of the bank was also damaged.
Police and bomb disposal squad rushed to the site and later declared the site clear. The police team also found pamphlets of Sindhu Desh Liberation Army from the blast site.
In Nawabshah, the second explosion took place at the Qazi Ahmad Town Branch of the NBP early on Wednesday, causing minor damage to the structures of the buildings. The blasts were heard several kilometres away.
The ATM rooms are equipped with closed circuit television cameras. Sources the management of the bank took control of all the digital record of the cameras, which would be decoded at the NBP head office in Karachi. Security had been tightened at other branches of the NBP.
Latif Ansari, Regional head of the NBP, said that 11 branches of the bank in Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Matiari, Shaheed Benazirabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin and Thatta were attacked. The NBP regional head said the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attacks in leaflets thrown at the blast sites. “This is the same group that had been carrying out subversive attacks on the railway tracks and power pylons,” he said.