Two grenades were thrown at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and commercial capital, on Wednesday but no injuries were reported, Al Arabiya TV said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no one had claimed responsibility for the act. But there was speculation that the incident could be in retaliation to the killing of Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden by US Special Forces in Pakistan on May 1.
Al Qaeda has been long opposed to the Saudi monarchy, even though Bin Laden hailed from the country and was a scion of a leading business family there. The terrorist group has vowed to avenge his death.
Officials reported no damage and no casualties after two men on a motorcycle threw the explosives at the heavily fortified building in Clifton, one of the smartest neighborhoods of Karachi, according to Agence-France Presse.
“This was an attack on the Saudi consulate. Two motorcycle riders threw two grenades and fled,” provincial government official Sharfuddin Memon told AFP.
“There were no casualties. We are seeing this incident in the present context. It could be a reaction to the Osama incident,” he said, not producing anything to back up his speculation.
Pakistan has been in the grip of a domestic and international crisis since US Navy SEALs flew in, seemingly undetected, from Afghanistan to identify and kill the Al Qaeda terror mastermind at a compound in the cantonment of Abbottabad, about 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad.
Many Pakistanis have expressed horror at the perceived impunity of the raid. Like their compatriots and many people around the world, they have been asking if their military was too incompetent to know that Bin Laden had been living in a garrison city near the capital, or, even worse, conspired to protect him.
But while the killing has not ignited mass protests in the Muslim country, where more than 4,240 people have died in bomb attacks blamed on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the last four years, small gatherings have vowed revenge.
Saudi Arabia expelled Bin Laden in 1991 and later revoked his nationality. The government in Riyadh, which is allied to the authorities in Islamabad, last week welcomed his killing as a boost to international anti-terror efforts.
An AFP photographer said ambulances, police and paramilitary Rangers swarmed outside the Saudi consulate after the attack, where small shrapnel marks could be seen on the outer wall of the elegant building.
Mohammed Safdar, a police official at the scene, said security guards at the diplomatic mission had opened fire on the attackers but they escaped.
Pakistan is holding in protective custody three of Bin Laden’s widows, who come from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and 13 of their children.
The foreign ministry says it has yet to receive a formal request from the United States for access to the relatives or requests from their home countries for their repatriation. The administration of President Barack Obama of the United States claims that it has asked for access to the widows in order to interrogate them but that it was still waiting for an official response from Islamabad.
Meanwhile, sentiment appears to be growing in the US Congress to cut back, or even eliminate, US aid to Pakistan, which is about $1.2 billion annually. Much of this aid is military, supposedly designed to combat terror in the country and in neighboring Afghanistan. But critics say that Pakistan uses much of that aid to buy weaponry for possible use against its neighbor and rival, India. Economic and political relations between India and the United States are growing stronger.
(Ammar Ben Aziz of Al Arabiya can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)