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Suicide bomber targets Danish embassy in Pakistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Suicide car bomber targeted Danish embassy in capital, Islamabad
  • Differing accounts put death toll at between eight and six people
  • Medical worker says a child and at least one foreign national died in blast
  • Danish embassy scene of protests last year over Muhammed cartoons row
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A massive blast targeting the Danish Embassy in Pakistan Monday killed at least six people and wounded as many as 18, authorities said.

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The scene of devastation in Islamabad Monday after a suicide car bomb attack near the Danish Embassy.

The blast left a four-foot deep crater in the road.

Confusion lingered about the attack in the capital city of Islamabad and the number of casualties.

Police at the scene said a suicide car bomber pulled up next to the embassy at about 1 p.m. and detonated explosives. But Senior Superintendent of Police Ahmad Latif told CNN that authorities could not immediately label it a suicide attack.

Likewise, a medical worker told CNN the explosion killed eight people, including a young child and at least one foreign national.

But Latif put the number of fatalities at six and said none of the dead were foreigners. Among the wounded, he said, was a Brazilian citizen of Pakistani descent. Video Watch Pakistan's foreign minister respond »

Authorities differed on the number of wounded as well, with figures ranging from five to 18. No embassy official was seriously hurt, Latif said.

It is not uncommon for preliminary casualty figures to vary: police cautioned that the numbers could rise.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller condemned the act.

"My immediate reaction is that you can only condemn this," said Stig Moeller. "It is terrible that terrorists do this. The embassy is there to have a cooperation between the Pakistani population and Denmark, and that means they are destroying that. They're destroying the Pakistanis' ability to connect with Denmark. It is completely unacceptable."
Video Watch the aftermath of the deadly attack »

The blast, heard more than two miles away, sheared off the embassy's front wall and kicked in its metal front gate. The impact blew out the building's windows and also damaged the offices of a non-profit organization. The Danish and the EU flag, knocked off their staff, hung limply from a spot on the embassy balcony.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir told reporters at the scene that police are beefing up security at embassies and foreign missions throughout the city.

"I just want to assure everybody that the government will do everything to protect the diplomatic missions and also the security and safety of the citizens of Pakistan," he said.

The explosion was the first deadly attack in Islamabad since a bomb was hurled over a wall surrounding an Italian restaurant on March 15. That explosion killed a Turkish woman and wounded 12 people, including four U.S. FBI agents.

After Monday's attack, dozens of cars -- blanketed with dirt kicked up by the blast -- littered the street, their windows knocked out.

Rescue workers carried away a bloodied person, covering his body with a blanket. Pieces of shoes and tattered clothing lay amid the rubble.

Police said the attack targeted the embassy.

Danish embassies in predominantly Muslim countries, such as Pakistan, have been the scene of protests since Danish newspapers reprinted cartoons that Muslims say insult their prophet.

In February, several newspapers in Denmark reprinted the controversial cartoons of Islam's prophet, Muhammad, after Danish authorities arrested several people who allegedly were plotting a "terror-related assassination" of the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard.

Westergaard's cartoon depicted the prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse. He said he wanted his drawing to say that some people exploited the prophet to legitimize terror. However, many in the Muslim world interpreted the drawing as depicting their prophet as a terrorist.

Islam generally forbids any depiction of the prophet -- even favorable ones -- fearing that it may lead to idolatry.

Two years ago, demonstrations erupted across the world after some newspapers printed the same cartoons. Some protests turned deadly.

The protests prompted Danish officials to temporarily close the embassy in Islamabad.

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There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Monday's blast. In the past, authorities have blamed Islamic militants for carrying out attacks inside Pakistani cities.

The country experienced a month-long lull in attacks after a new government took office in March and set on a course to negotiate with militants. But since then, attacks have picked up again.

CNN's Reza Sayah contributed to this report.

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