KARACHI,AP- Six employees of a KFC restaurant were killed yesterday after the building was torched by a mob angry over a deadly suicide attack at a Shi”ite mosque in Karachi.
Four of the victims at the restaurant were burned to death, while the two others froze after taking refuge in a refrigeration unit.
The restaurant was targeted after three militants, a policeman and a worshipper were killed in a shootout and a suicide bombing during evening prayers at the Madinat-ul-Ilm mosque in Gulshan, a busy neighbourhood in Pakistan”s violence-prone largest city.
Two policemen and 21 civilians were also injured in the carnage at the mosque, just three days after a similar attack in Islamabad killed 19 people.
A police spokesman said militants with explosives strapped to their bodies tried to burst into the Shi”ite mosque, which was under guard following the attack last week on a Shi”ite mosque in Islamabad.
"There were three persons who reached the mosque and snatched a sub-machinegun from a head constable who was posted at the mosque. Then they killed him," the spokesman said.
"Other policemen shot at them and killed two of them, but in the exchange of fire the attackers also wounded two policemen," he said.
One suicide bomber ran into the mosque during the shootout and blew himself up.
Police claim the plan was for one militant to set off a blast inside the mosque and for the others to stay outside and gun down survivors as they tried to escape the building.
The charred head of a man believed to be the suicide bomber sat in a pool of blood inside the mosque, while a leg severed at the knee and with a sandal still on the foot lay several metres away, witnesses said.
One worshipper died at a private clinic, while 21 people, four in a critical condition, were admitted to three hospitals in Karachi.
Sunni Muslim extremists were suspected in the mosque attack, and it was unclear why the KFC restaurant was targeted in retaliatory rioting, along with arson attacks on vehicles, shops, three bank branches and three petrol stations.
The restaurant is heavily associated with the US and rioters in Pakistan typically attack symbols of Washington while on a rampage.
Anti-US feeling grew in Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf allied the country with Washington in the war on terror after September 11, 2001.
Thousands of Shi”ite and majority Sunni Muslims have been killed in sectarian bloodshed in Pakistan in recent years.
Karachi, Pakistan”s main commercial city, with a population of about 12 million, has been one of the worst areas for sectarian violence.
Police said a local leader of Pakistan”s main Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami and former member of the provincial assembly was shot dead after being kidnapped on Monday.