Security Boosted after Car-Bomb Explodes at American Fast Food Restaurant in Pakistan

An arrest has been made in the deadly car bombing in Pakistan's largest city, Gen. President Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday, without indicating whether the suspect had links to an ethnic rebel group that claimed responsibility for the blast.

"An arrest was made in connection with the Karachi bomb blast," Gen. Pervez Musharraf Musharraf told reporters at a news conference. "We are trying to find out who (set the bomb) and we are trying to find out more," he said.

Musharraf said the arrests were made in the southwestern city of Quetta, but gave no other details.

Government spokesman Sheikh Rashid added: "Now we will go and arrest the mastermind."

Tuesday's bomb, concealed in a stolen Suzuki car parked outside the KFC restaurant, went off at about 8:45 a.m., just as commuters were heading to shops and offices in the crowded downtown area of Karachi, Pakistan's business hub. Three security guards were killed and 22 other people injured.

Hours later, a man claiming to speak on behalf of the Baluchistan Liberation Army called newspapers saying the group had set the bomb. However, another man who also claimed to speak for the group later denied it was behind the attack.

The attack was the first claimed by the Baluchistan Liberation Army outside its native province in southwestern Pakistan, where it has carried out a series of bombings and rocket attacks as part of a campaign to extract more government revenues from the region's natural gas deposits.

A team of investigators are focusing on the BLA, Karachi police chief Mushtaq Shah said.

"With the help of the Baluchistan police, we are working along these lines," Shah told The Associated Press. He said police had traced the call claiming responsibility to a public phone in Quetta, Baluchistan's capital.

Police say the bomb was made from five kilograms (11 pounds) of homemade explosives and detonated by a timer. The car containing the bomb was blown to pieces, leaving a crater two meters (six feet) across. The front of the restaurant was destroyed, and six vehicles were overturned and incinerated. The offices of three Pakistani banks and a nearby five-star hotel were damaged.

Police were stepping up security at places of worship, government buildings, and other important sites in the capital, Islamabad, and the nearby military garrison town of Rawalpindi. Scores of delegates from donor countries, the United Nations, and other international aid groups have been invited to attend two days of meetings in Islamabad from Friday aimed at attracting funding to reconstruct parts of northern Pakistan devastated by last month's earthquake.

The U.S. Embassy, in an announcement, has warned American nationals to "avoid locations where Westerners are known to frequent throughout Pakistan until we can glean additional information on what was the exact target of the bombing."

Karachi is a center of Islamic militancy and has been wracked by terrorist attacks in recent years. Previous bombings have been linked to extremists opposed to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's close ties to the United States.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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