A car bomb tore through an outlet of a US fast food chain in Pakistan's largest city Karachi on Tuesday, killing at least two people and wounding 15 others, police and government officials said.
The vehicle blew up outside a KFC restaurant at about 8:40 am (0340 GMT), Karachi police chief Mushtaq Shah told the news agency.
"It was a high-intensity explosion and its noise was heard in several parts of the city. It appears that the KFC was the target," Shah said.
The Edhi Welfare Trust rescue group said its ambulances had taken six bodies to hospital but police said later there were only two dead, with 15 people wounded.
"Probably the volunteers took injured, unconscious people as dead," senior police officer Manzoor Mughal told the news agency at the scene of the blast, in a busy area of the volatile city.
Two bodies and 10 wounded were brought to the city's main Jinnah hospital, doctor Seemi Jamali told the news agency.
"Four to five of the injured have serious burn injuries and we plan to shift them to another hospital as we do not have a burns unit here," she said.
Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said the explosion was "naturally an act of terrorism."
He condemned the attackers for striking as Pakistan was trying to recover from an earthquake last month that claimed more than 73,000 lives.
"At this moment we are asking the international community to come to Pakistan's help in the wake of the earthquake and this blast will send a wrong signal outside," Sherpao said.
No one had yet claimed responsibility for the blast and an investigation was under way, he said.
The fast food outlet and a nearby bank branch were destroyed in the blast. Several vehicles caught alight and the windows of neighbouring buildings were shattered, an AFP correspondent said.
Police quickly sealed off the area around the site, which is close to the upmarket Sheraton and Pearl Continental hotels.
An official from the bomb disposal unit said the device had been on a timer. "It was a time device on a five-kilogramme (11-pound) explosive which was planted inside the car. It was not a suicide bombing," Fateh Mohammad said.
Muhammad Aslam, who works in a branch of Allied Bank, said from hospital that the blast threw him from his car, knocking him unconscious.
"I do not know who brought me to hospital," Aslam said, his head in bandages. "I also do not know where my friend is who was also in the car with me."
The blast coincided with a hearing in a Karachi court of an appeal against a death sentence handed to a Islamic extremist for the kidnapping and murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.
British-born Sheikh Omar was convicted of involvement in Pearl's abduction and given the death penalty in June 2002. His appeal has been pending for more than two years.
It also came a day after President Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN that Pakistan had not suffered a terrorist attack on Western interests like last week's hotel bombings in Jordan for more than a year.
The city, which has seen several similar attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, is also preparing for a one-day cricket international with England next month.
Six employees of another KFC branch in the volatile city were killed on May 30 when the building was torched by a mob of angry minority Shiite Muslims. Three were burned to death and three froze to death after seeking refuge in a chiller room.
The attack was in response to another on a nearby Shiite mosque, allegedly carried out by a suspected Sunni militant group with links to Al-Qaeda, which left five people dead.
In September twin bomb blasts wounded eight people at crowded KFC and McDonald's restaurants in Karachi, although the government said they were linked to a national strike called by opposition parties.