Blast at Danish Embassy in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A huge car bomb exploded outside the Danish Embassy in the Pakistani capital on Monday, killing at least six people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said.
The blast echoed through Islamabad and left a crater over 1 meter deep in the road in front of the main gate to the embassy. Glass, fallen masonry and dozens of wrecked vehicles littered the area. People, some bloodied, ran helter-skelter in a state of panic.
A perimeter wall of the embassy collapsed and its metal gate was blown inward, but the embassy building itself remained standing though its windows were shattered.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri recently called for attacks on Danish targets in response to the publication of caricatures in Danish newspapers depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The blast also came amid efforts by Pakistan’s new government to strike peace deals with militants in its regions bordering Afghanistan, a pursuit eyed warily by the United States.
Pakistani officials condemned the blast but indicated that they did not want to stop the talks. The government has insisted that it is not talking to “terrorists” but rather militants willing to lay down their weapons.
“There is no question of any impact of this incident on the peace process, but of course it badly harmed our image in the world,” said Rehman Malik, the Interior Ministry chief.
Officials said at least six people — including two policemen — were killed and 35 people were wounded in the blast, none of them foreigners. It was the second targeting of foreigners in the usually tranquil Pakistani capital in less than three months.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said the explosion killed a Pakistani cleaner at the embassy, seriously wounded a handyman there and injured two office workers. No Danes were reported among the victims.
Moeller called the attack “totally unacceptable.”
“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,” Moeller said.
The Norwegian and Swedish governments immediately closed their embassies in Islamabad. The homes of the Dutch ambassador and the Australian defense attache, located near the Danish embassy, were damaged in the blast, but none of their staff were reported injured. The U.S. Embassy, meanwhile, urged Americans to use extra caution when traveling through Islamabad and to avoid the blast site.
Policeman Muhammad Ashraf said it appeared to be a car bomb. Someone had parked a car in front of the embassy and it exploded at around 1 p.m, he said.
Kamal Shah, a senior Interior Ministry official, said the Danish Embassy promised to supply investigators with footage from its closed circuit cameras. He said it was not yet clear if it was a suicide bombing, a time bomb or one detonated by remote control.
The engine of the vehicle was catapulted about 30 meters. It landed in a private villa in a neighboring street.
“I was with a friend passing through a nearby street then we heard a big bang,” said bystander Muhammad Akhtar. “Then we saw smoke and people running in a frenzy. We shifted at least eight or nine injured to hospitals. They all have got serious injuries. They were soaked in blood.”