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Families suffer effects of Lyari blast that killed many children
Publication Date : 08-08-2013
Not satisfied with the view from the ground, 17-year-old Abdul Basit ran towards the roof of a shop to get a good look at the football match taking place in Karachi’s Lyari town in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
The match was part of a series of games in the Youth Football Tournament which began with the month of Ramadan in Lyari’s Chakiwara No. 2 neighbourhood.
As always, the area where the match was taking place was decked up with lights.
One man was assigned the task of asking people in Balochi dialect to "settle down and watch the game, or leave the street" that served as the match’s venue.
Newly-elected Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Member of Provincial Assembly Jawed Nagori was one of the guests of honour at the tournament, which the neighbourhood elders said was organised to motivate the children.
Watching from the next street were teenagers and children who have been excitedly anticipating the football match for over a month.
Immediately after Nagori gave out the prizes for the match, an explosion was heard only a few feet away from his parked car. Even though Nagori was unhurt and quickly escorted away, the children nearby were caught in the blast, someone of them died on the spot.
Wednesday's game was the first of the series and would be the last.
Abdul Basit who was watching from a rooftop was hit by the impact of the explosion and fell to the ground. His brothers Yasir and Saddam said that it took them 20 minutes to find him through the debris.
"By the time we reached him, he was already bleeding profusely. The doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead upon arrival," they said.
At home, their mother wept inconsolably, as other women from the neighbourhood sit around her, lost for words. "What can I possibly tell her? How do we comfort a woman who has just lost her son?" asked neighbour Zarnaz Bibi.
Who is behind the attack?
Hours after the explosion occured, and a few minutes before the call for evening prayers, shopkeepers were seen trying to fix shutters at their stores which were damaged from the impact. Others gathered around the site of the explosion, wondering who could have placed the bomb which claimed at least seven young lives.
A shopkeeper named Inayat Ali said that some people saw a man parking his motorcycle a few feet away from the street where the match took place.
"Nobody could tell what he looked like exactly. I only saw the motorcycle and not its owner," he said.
Akram Baloch who heads the media department of the Lyari-based People's Amn Committee (PAC) - an organisation rumoured to be supported by the PPP - said that Nagori had been receiving threats from extremist groups.
"A few months ago, a number of militants from Lyari were arrested. They blamed the PAC for providing intelligence (that led to their arrests). The attack is similar to the one that happened during an elections meeting in Kurharwara three months ago," Baloch said.
Loved ones lost
The explosion left horrors in the minds of children in the neighbourhood for whom football was a favourite activity.
Near the street where the explosion occured, 12-year-old Deedak stood huddled in a corner with his friends.
"I lost my friend. He played in the match, and I was here to see him," he said.
Deedak said that the football match was one of many games to celebrate Ramadan.
"We were also planning for a cricket match for which we invited children from other neighbourhoods to join us and participate."
After the blast, ambulances rushed injured children to nearby hospitals such as the Karachi civil hospital and the Lyari General Hospital.
Dr. Tariq Ayubi who heads the emergency ward at the civil hospital said that he received three dead bodies and 18 injured. "Some of those who were taken to the general hospital succumbed to their injuries. However, their deaths have not yet been registered with us," he said.
In the civil hospital's surgical ward, 15-year-old Sahad Ashraf is sleeping while his family members sit anxiously beside him. He had acquired injuries on his chest, pelvis and thighs, and his family said that it is a miracle that he survived.
Seated at her grandson's bedside, Ashraf's grandmother said, "He was just watching a match. This (football) is the only thing our children enjoy together. What can you possibly say to those who attacked them?"