Struck by yet another terror attack, Karachi wore a deserted look on Monday as the victims of the horrific Abbas Town bomb blast were laid to rest amid protests and a general strike.
A massive bomb blast had ripped through the Shia-majority neighbourhood of Abbas Town on Sunday night, leaving at least 48 people dead and more than 200 injured. The explosion also ripped off the facade of two residential apartment complexes.
There has been no claim of responsibility but suspicions fall on the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the local Taliban.
Search for more bodies
As the day dawned, families and rescue workers continued sifting through the rubble at the blast site, looking for people missing since the explosion. Some survivors could also be seen searching for personal belongings.
“I am looking for my relative,” said Farzana Azfar. “People are saying he was here [when the bomb went off] but they have no idea what happened afterwards. I think some people are still under the rubble.”
“Go ask the sleeping government to wake up. Our brothers and sisters are dying every day. This government is sleeping,” said Shagufta Rasheed.
On Shahrah-e-Pakistan, thousands of men, women and children, many of them wearing black headbands, turned up at the funeral prayers of the eight bombing victims.
The mourners beat their chests and heads and sobbed as the coffins passed by at the start of the first prayer. “Stop the brutal attacks!” reverberated through the crowd.
“Terrorists are killing us everywhere but the state is nowhere to be seen,” rued Intizar Hussain, whose father died in the bombing.
At least 4,000 people attended the funeral, police said.
At Numaish Chowrangi, the funeral prayers of two victims were held amid a demonstration against the bombing. No Rangers or policemen were deployed at Numaish and MWM volunteers ensured security, said Ali Ahmer, the MWM spokesperson.
The funerals of six more victims were held at an Imambargah, Ancholi. Ahmer said another 12 bodies had yet to be identified.
“The government should give us weapons to deal with terrorists if their agencies are unable to bring them to book,” said Azam Khan, a Sunni, who had taken several of the dead to hospital the other day. “We will vote for those who eliminate these terrorists.”
26 victims buried
At least 26 victims of the Abbas Town bomb blast were laid to rest at the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard along the Karachi-Hyderabad highway.
Last year was one of the most deadly for Shia in the country’s history. More than 400 Shia-community members died in attacks across Pakistan in 2012, according to the Human Rights Watch.
The entire city shut down on the call of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen and the Shia Ulema Council. The call was supported by various political parties and the transporters as well. The Sindh government had also announced a mourning day to honour the victims.
All businesses, educational institutions and fuel stations were closed as security officials patrolled the streets. All major roads and thoroughfares wore a deserted look as the transporters opted to express solidarity with the families of the victims.
Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) President Irshad Hussain Bukhari said all types of public transport, including buses, minibuses and coaches, were off the road.
The transporters would decide whether to ply buses on Tuesday after seeing the situation, he added.
The Karachi Goods Carrying Association (KGCA) also kept their vehicles parked at terminals. No loaded truck departed the city, said Noor Shah, the KGCA joint secretary.