Photo by Waheed Zuberi on Flickr.
Immediately after a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a Shiite procession in Karachi on Monday, riots took hold of a nearby district, leading locals to believe that the Shiite mourners were seeking immediate revenge. Some of our Observers in the area however say that the supposed riots were too well organised to have been instigated spontaneously.
The Ashura procession, held on the 10th day of mourning for the prophet's grandson, Imam Hussein, is the most important event in the holy month of Muharram for Shiite Muslims. But in Pakistan, where Shiites are a minority, the celebration is often marred by secular violence.
This year, bombs were set off on the 8th, 9th and 10th days of Muharram. But not by Sunni militants; the government blamed the attacks on the Taliban, (who on Wednesday, claimed responsibility). The 10th day, during the Ashura procession, saw the bloodiest attack, when a young man set off a bundle of explosives killing 43 people. The man has already been located on CCTV footage. But the people behind what followed, when around 500 buildings were torched, state vehicles vandalised, and three markets destroyed, are yet to be found.
The former marketplace, torched in the riots. Photos taken on Tuesday by Flickr user Huma Imtiaz.
More images of destruction caused by the riots
“The Shiites were busy trying to finish the jaloos [procession] in safety”
This footage was shot by YouTuber Nadeem Zaidi just after the bombing. In defiance of the attack, the mourners continued their procession.
It's true that the Shiites were angry but I do not believe they were involved in the post-blast riots. They were busy trying to finish the jaloos [procession] in safety. I saw elders calming down younger boys; and those youngsters obeyed their elders and stopped shouting at the police and got on with the jaloos [procession]."
See more footage from after the attack on Nadeem's YouTube account.
“The arsonists might be part of a grander strategy to spark fresh ethnic violence in Karachi”
Faisal Kapadia owns a chemical trading company near to the riot site in Karachi.
Early on Tuesday morning I went to my office as it's about 500 meters from the last arson attack site. The office was untouched, but what I saw was horrifying... A space the size of two full city blocks had been torched.
There is no way on earth a mob could have done this. It is almost logistically impossible to set this much on fire without pre planning it. It is as if fires sprung up at 20 different locations immediately after the explosion took place. Although obviously some of the carnage (like broken signals and traffic signs) can be attributed to mob action, I do not think the fire is the work of Shiites from the procession.
Since the 1980s this city has witnessed ethnic violence between Shiites and Sunnis. The arsonists who torched the area however, might be part of a grander strategy to spark fresh ethnic violence in Karachi, which has more or less been peaceful for the past two years. Perhaps they are also part of the Taliban - I do think it would be in their favour to see Pakistan's biggest city overcome by anarchy, destabilising the government so that a power vacuum is created which they can then fill. That is the main goal of the jihads in Pakistan; the establishment of a totalitarian regime controlled by them.
The situation right now is like it was on December 27 2007 when Benazir Bhutto died. The whole city was put to the sword and torched, and yet nobody has ever been tried for the riots carried out that day. Let's hope this time the culprits are found."