KARACHI, Pakistan -- A suicide bomber blew up a shuttle bus parked outside a Karachi hotel Wednesday in a thunderous explosion that killed 10 French engineers and their Pakistani driver and wounded 34 other people.
Pakistan's government denounced the blast as an act of terrorism aimed at foreigners, and suspicion fell on militant Islamic groups angered by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led coalition's war in neighboring Afghanistan.
There was no evidence linking the attack directly to the al-Qaida terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, but many of the militant Islamic groups in Pakistan are sympathetic to al-Qaida and some have links to the organization.
Musharraf promised to fight back.
"We feel this act of international terrorism has to be met with full force. My government has the complete resolve of meeting this threat," he said without elaborating.
"I would appeal to the international community to understand our domestic environment resulting from our cooperation against international terrorism," Musharraf said.
French President Jacques Chirac condemned the attack as "vile" and sent his newly appointed defense minister to Pakistan.
The French dead were engineers working at the Karachi seaport for a state-owned French marine construction company, the French foreign ministry said in Paris. They were part of a team building a submarine Pakistan bought from France, Pakistani officials said.
The bus was parked outside the Sheraton Hotel when the bomb went off -- apparently in a second vehicle driven by the bomber, tearing a large crater in the road and destroying nearby vehicles.
"We have recovered a charred body from a car," said Sindh provincial police chief Sayed Kamal Shah, referring to the suicide bomber and the bomb-laden vehicle.
The blast wounded 34 other people, 16 of them French, police said. Including the bomber, the death toll stood at 12.
"The sound was so loud I think you could have heard it from six miles away," said Munir Sheikh, a police officer who witnessed the explosion.
Ambulances struggled to reach the wounded, weaving through the Karachi's congested streets. A teeming industrial capital of 14 million people, it is Pakistan's largest city.
"I took some of the bodies to the hospital. The condition was very bad. It was horrible," said Mohammed Rizwan, an ambulance driver.
Gen. Rashid Quereshi, a government spokesman, called the explosion an act of terrorism and an attempt to terrorize foreigners in Pakistan.
"Those who did this were enemies of the civilized world," Quereshi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He also said Pakistan would not falter in its support for the U.S. -led coalition's war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Several foreigners in Pakistan have been killed in brutal attacks claimed by Islamic radicals, who backed Afghanistan's collapsed Taliban regime.
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