Suicide blast at Danish embassy in Pakistan kills eight


ISLAMABAD; June 2, 2008; (AFP) A suicide car bombing outside the Danish embassy in the Pakistani capital Islamabad killed at least eight people and wounded nearly 30 others, state media and officials said Monday.

The blast left a huge crater outside the embassy, damaging the building and a nearby development agency. Dozens of cars were wrecked by the force of the explosion and some were on fire, an AFP reporter said. Denmark had recently downgraded the embassy and moved out most foreign staff due to threats linked to a furore over the reproduction in Danish media in February of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, diplomatic sources said. "It was a suicide attack carried out in a vehicle, apparently targeting the Denmark embassy," a senior Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Government-run television and the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency both said at least eight people were killed in the blast and several more injured. TV channels showed smoke rising above the scene. Another security official said at least six had been killed, including two policemen stationed outside the embassy, and 27 others wounded. In Copenhagen, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller called the attack "totally unacceptable" and called an emergency ministerial meeting following the blast. "I of course condemn this attack. It is terrible that terrorists commit such acts," Moeller told Danish TV2 News. In April, Denmark moved embassy staff in Algeria and Afghanistan to secret locations due to threats linked to the Mohammed cartoons row. The country also has some 550 troops stationed in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. Norway temporarily closed its embassy in Islamabad after the attack, foreign ministry spokesman Tor-Henrik Andersen told AFP in Oslo. Officials from the nearby Netherlands embassy said their staff were unhurt. Ambulances rushed away carrying casualties including a security guard covered in blood, and police sealed off the area. Several trees near the scene were also ablaze. "I was in my room and there was a huge blast and the windows smashed. I was hit by a sharp object and am bleeding from my leg," said Mohammad Dilshad, who lives near the embassy. A worker at the development agency, the UN-backed Devolution Trust for Community Development, said he arrived at his office seconds after the explosion. "I saw blood and smoke and the trees were burning and debris was in the air settling down. Our building looked like it had been destroyed," Mohammad Salim told AFP. "I heard cries for help. I saw five people on the street lying on the ground in a pool of blood. I got to the first injured and thought he was dead but he was still breathing. We put him in a car and sent him to hospital," he added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. Monday's attack was the first in Islamabad since a bomb blast at an Italian restaurant frequented by foreigners on March 15 killed a Turkish woman and wounded 10 foreigners, including four US FBI staff. Pakistan has experienced a lull in suicide attacks since a new government came to power in March and began peace talks with Taliban militants based in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani Taliban movement spokesman Maulvi Omar said he had "no knowledge" about the blast. "I have no information, I am not in a position to immediately comment. I cannot say who is responsible for this," Omar told AFP by telephone fom an unknown location.

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