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Blast near Pak oil hub

Karachi, Feb. 3 (Reuters): At least one person was killed and two wounded today in a powerful explosion near the headquarters of Pakistan’s state oil company in the heart of Karachi, police said.

The explosion caused extensive damage to one side of the modern, glass structure of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) headquarters and also blew out windows of nearby buildings.

No organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but police said the explosion could be a message to PSO, which supplies oil to the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“It is an act of terrorism,” Syed Kamal Shah, chief of Sindh provincial police, said at the site of the blast in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub.

The explosives were attached to a motorcycle, Shah said.

The police found a national identity card on the body giving their age as 22 and bearing an address in the North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan. “He could be the suicide bomber... We are investigating and exploring all possibilities,” Shah said.

One part of the damaged PSO building was smeared with the blood of the victim, whose torso was thrown into it by the force of the explosion, witnesses said.

The blast caused panic as people ran for cover.

In recent weeks, pamphlets were distributed in tribal areas of southwestern Baluchistan province warning oil companies against supplying fuel to the coalition forces. Shah said as well as PSO, the offices of several security agencies investigating major terrorism cases are located in the neighbourhood.

Police were trying to find out details on the nature and intensity of the explosive device, he said. Dozens of police and paramilitary officials rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area.

The PSO head office was evacuated, but work had been resumed. “No PSO employee was hurt. It could be a message for us... but terrorism won’t affect our operations,” he said. A PSO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was sitting in his office on the seventh floor when the building was shaken by the blast. “I felt a jolt and initially thought something exploded inside the building. It was very scary. We were immediately asked to evacuate.”

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