KARACHI, Pakistan -- Two car bombs exploded yesterday near the home of a US diplomat and an English-language school, killing a police officer and wounding 34 people, mostly police and journalists, according to police officials and doctors.
The two bombs detonated about a half-hour apart in a heavily guarded neighborhood where the residence of the US consul general and the Pakistani-American Cultural Center, a private school that is not affiliated with the US government, are located.
Tariq Jamil, head of police operations in Karachi, called the attack "the work of highly trained terrorists."
The bombings occurred a block from the US Consulate, which has been the target of at least three attacks in two years, including a suicide bombing in June 2002 that killed 15 people. Since that attack, the consulate has not been open for normal business and has been run by a skeleton staff.
Police said the man thought to have organized the consulate bombing, identified as Kamran, was among at least eight Islamic militants arrested over the weekend in connection with a failed plot to kill Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, in April 2002. Senior police officials suggested the attack yesterday might have been carried out by other Islamic guerrillas in retaliation for the arrests.
"Kamran, alias Atif, was the kingpin of terrorists who had sent suicide bombers to the US Consulate in 2002," said Syed Kamal Shah, chief of police in Sindh Province. "We knew there will be a desperate response to his arrest."
Police said that the first bomb apparently was intended to attract a crowd and that the second, more powerful device inflicted most of the casualties.
The second explosion occurred as a local television news crew filming the car described it as an abandoned vehicle. Television images showed the explosion, followed by bleeding police officers and journalists emerging from behind thick smoke and debris.
"Luckily, many lives were saved because the injured people were quickly brought to the hospital by the ambulances which were already on the scene," said Dr. Hamid Jamali at Jinnah Hospital.
Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, has been the scene of frequent violence, including recent attacks on US and other Western targets.