KARACHI, April 23: At least two persons were killed and 18 others injured in a bomb blast at an election camp of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement here on Tuesday night.

Soon after the attack, MQM chief Altaf Hussain asked leaders of his party to shut all election offices and announced a day of mourning across Sindh on Wednesday.

“In these conditions how can people dare step out of their homes to cast vote,” he asked.

The massive blast near the People’s Chowrangi in North Nazimabad shattered windows of nearby apartment buildings.

“A group of political workers were standing outside the MQM election office when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in the crowd,” SSP district central Amir Farooqui said, adding: “We have found marks of ball bearings at the scene which suggest that they were packed in the explosives.”

“The IED weighing around one and a half kilograms contained ball bearings and small sized nuts and bolts,” a bomb disposal unit official said, adding that the device had been detonated by remote control.

The blast caused panic and people started running for shelter.

The two men killed in the blast were identified as Saad Siddiqui and Ajmal Hussain, both workers of the MQM.

The injured were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

“The place was bustling with political activities and songs were being played. The MQM workers were putting up a large poster of kite, the party’s election symbol, at the time of the blast,” residents said.

The MQM chief condemned the attack on the election office and appealed to traders and transports to close their businesses on Wednesday to register their protest.

He also directed leaders of his party to shut all election offices for the time being in view of threats of more terrorist attacks.

In a statement issued in London, Mr Hussain said maintaining peace and order was the prime responsibility of the caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). He claimed that 25 workers, including a candidate, of the MQM had been killed over the past few days.

He directed the MQM leaders to convey to the ECP and the government the party’s decision to shut all its election offices. “How peaceful elections can be held amid terrorist attacks,” he asked.

Mr Hussain said all political and religious parties should condemn the attack. He said his party had time and again warned the authorities that terrorist elements were planning attacks on the Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami National Party and MQM to stop them from carrying out campaigns and contesting elections. But no concrete plans had been evolved to improve law and order, he regretted.

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