Six suspected militants killed in Karachi blast

Pakistani security officials stand amid debris of a collapsed house following an explosion in Karachi January 8, 2010. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

KARACHI (Reuters) - Six suspected militants were killed on Friday when explosives being stored in a hideout in the Pakistani city of Karachi were apparently detonated accidentally, police said.

Karachi has been largely been free of militant violence over the past couple of years, but a bomb at a procession by minority Shi’ite Muslims in the city last week fueled concerns that the militants are expanding their fight to Pakistan’s commercial hub.

Friday’s blast, in a poor neighborhood of the sprawling southern city, is likely to add to those fears.

“It looks like the people inside the house were some militants,” said area police official Ghulam Hussain Korai.

Six people were killed in the blast, which brought down the house, and weapons were found in the rubble, Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed told Reuters.

“Police have recovered one Kalashnikov rifle and two hand grenades,” Ahmed told Reuters. “We have also taken into custody two suspects who were injured in the blast.”

Karachi is home to Pakistan’s main stock market, the central bank and its two main ports.

As the country’s industrial hub, the city generates 68 percent of government revenue and 25 percent of gross domestic product.

While investors in Pakistan have got used to almost daily violence in the northwest, near the Afghan border, bloodshed in Karachi is more likely to dent sentiment.

Editing by Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson