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Three suicide attackers stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi amid a series of gunshots and an explosion on Friday, but were killed before they could force their way in with a car packed with explosives, police said.
The attack, claimed by separatist insurgents from the impoverished southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, killed four people, including two police officers, but it was far from the most deadly on a particularly violent day across the region. A suicide attacker on a motorbike set off explosives in a crowded festival and market in northwest Pakistan’s Orakzai region, killing at least 25 people at around the same time as the Karachi bloodshed. Over the border in eastern Afghanistan, a suicide blast at a mosque on an army base killed at least 26 people and wounded 50, security officials said. Earlier in the week, a suicide bomber killed 55 people in the capital, Kabul.
Meanwhile Pakistan authorities launched a crackdown Saturday against hundreds of supporters of a hardline cleric whose party recently paralysed the country with violent protests over the acquittal of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. Hours after firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi was himself arrested late Friday, police said over 300 Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party supporters were detained in Punjab province in efforts to “maintain public order”.
The arrests came ahead of a scheduled party rally on Sunday in Islamabad, but Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz ul-Hassan Chohan said TLP supporters would be banned from gathering in the neighbouring province. “We are detaining supporters of TLP across the province to avoid any backlash after the arrest of their leaders,” said Chohan. “Police has been deployed in all major cities of the province to deal with any untoward incident. There is a complete ban on all type of political gatherings in the province.” The country’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the detention of Rizvi “has to do nothing with (the) Asia Bibi case,” referring to a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years before the Supreme Court overturned her blasphemy conviction last month. (AFP)