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Pakistan blasts kill U.S. diplomat

Firefighters battle a blaze Thursday after a bomb exploded outside a Karachi, Pakistan, hotel.




LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- A U.S. diplomat and his driver were among at least four people killed in an apparent suicide attack outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, officials said.

More than 50 people were wounded in two explosions in a Marriott hotel parking lot next to the consulate Thursday, two days ahead of a visit to the country by U.S. President George W. Bush.

"There was a first blast, then after 5, 10 minutes there was ... a second one," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told CNN.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Shairpao said the attack appeared to be the work of a suicide car bomber who was targeting the U.S. foreign service officer.

He said the first blast took place as a car carrying the diplomat approached the entrance to the parking lot. The apparent suicide bomber accelerated his vehicle and crashed it into the diplomat's car, he said.

The blast was so powerful that it tossed the diplomat's car over the wall and into the consulate grounds, he said.

Video from the scene showed a crater in the road with Pakistani security forces and emergency workers rushing to douse burning cars and trucks. Numerous vehicles, including at least one police truck, had windows blown out and doors blown off.

The first blast went off around 9:15 a.m. (0415 GMT) and was soon followed by a second explosion. The bombings killed at least four people and wounded 52 more.

Ahmad said the blasts came at a time when many people were arriving for their morning shifts.

Bush announced the death of the U.S. foreign service officer during a joint news conference in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I send our country's deepest condolences to that person's loved one and family," Bush said. "We also send the condolences to the people of Pakistan who lost their lives."

The State Department identified the diplomat as administrative officer David Foy of Fayetteville, N.C.

Bush said the bombings would not deter plans for his visit.

"Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan," he said, adding the bombing shows the war on terrorism must continue.

Bush will be in the Pakistan capital Islamabad and is not scheduled to visit Karachi, Ahmad said.

Shairpao said he was comfortable with security measures in place for the president's visit, when entire portions of Islamabad will be declared "red zones," blocking access to all but authorized people.

CNN Senior Asia Correspondent Mike Chinoy, reporting from Pakistan, said security would be very high on Bush's agenda when he meets Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf over the weekend.

In a message transmitted to New Delhi, Musharraf said, "We condemn this outrage in the strongest terms. Our authorities are investigating the incident and those responsible will be brought to justice.

"This senseless act will not deter our strong resolve to pursue the relentless fight against the evil of terrorism. We all must continue to work together to eliminate this threat."

Chinoy said the U.S. Consulate in Karachi had been the target of previous attacks and that the sprawling port city was known to be a center for terrorist groups, including al Qaeda.

State Department officials said Karachi is one of the most dangerous and unstable U.S. posts anywhere and certainly the worst in Pakistan. Security at the consulate is very tight -- diplomats have armed guards wherever they go.

While a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN it is not clear who is responsible for the attack, a State Department official with extensive knowledge of Karachi said there is a mix of extremist Islamic groups that operate in the city.

In addition to al Qaeda -- which is believed to operate there -- many political movements, militants and other unsavory characters operate throughout Pakistan and the disputed region of Kashmir and are unfriendly to the Pakistani government and the United States.

There are "a lot of people happy to kill Americans, which makes it very difficult to operate," the official said.

Following are some examples of attacks on Americans in Karachi:

  • 1995: Three consulate employees were ambushed by men with AK-47s who killed them. The United States never found those responsible.
  • 1998: Four American businessmen killed in similar ambush.
  • 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and killed.
  • 2002: A group called Al-Qanoon, believed to be linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for a car bomb at the consulate that killed about 10 people.
  • 2004: An attack on the consulate failed. A car bomb was found and defused.
  • CNN's Syed Mohsin Naqvi contributed to this report.

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