Sydney, Oct 19: Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said the bomb blasts near the convoy of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto could be the handiwork of al-Qaeda. Howard said that Benazir was targeted by al-Qaeda because of her support for the US 'war on terror' The News reported. It's too early to be certain, but it looks very much like the work of al-Qaeda," Howard told the Australian broadcaster. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the blasts, the worst suicide attack in Pakistan's history, were horrific. "There's no doubt that al-Qaeda would be deeply offended at the possibility of a woman taking a leadership role in politics in Pakistan in a Muslim country," the daily quoted Downer, as saying.
Two explosions went off a minute apart shortly after midnight near Karsaz close to the vehicle Bhutto was travelling in.
"The blasts hit two police vehicles which were escorting the truck carrying Bhutto. The target was the truck," said a senior Karachi police official.
The attack reportedly bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda and resembled assassination attempts by militants linked to the terrorist network on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in recent years.
The Pakistan Interior Ministry has confirmed the deaths of 70 people in the attack.
Officials at six hospitals in Karachi reported over 130 dead and about 600 wounded, making it one of the deadliest bombings in Pakistan"s history.
Bhutto was leading the procession to Qaid-e-Azam"s mausoleum, where she was to give a speech. However, after the two explosions, she was rushed to the safety of Bilawal House in Karachi"s uptown Clifton area.
According to witnesses, the bomber tried to enter the inner security cordon of the PPP workers around Bhutto, but was stopped. He then set off the explosion.
The second blast originated from a golden-coloured Pajero parked on the road, witnesses added.
Meanwhile Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said that there were two blasts, one on the left side and one on the right side of the procession.
"It appears these were suicide attacks, but it is not confirmed," he added.
Earlier, Intelligence reports had warned of threats of suicide attacks against Bhutto by militants linked to al Qaeda, the Taliban and Baitullah Mehsud.