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Pearl murder suspect dead in Karachi blast

The powerful blast destroyed a two-story building in Karachi

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KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspect linked to the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and the deadly bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi earlier this year died Thursday in an apparently accidental explosion, Pakistani police say.

Asif Ramzi, one of the country's most wanted criminals, was killed along with three others during an explosion at a secret bomb factory in Karachi.

The powerful blast leveled the two-story building in the eastern part of the city.

Ramzi was the target of a massive manhunt with a reward of $50,000 offered for his capture.

He was one of the leaders of the outlawed extremist group Lashkar e-Jhangvi wanted in connection with sectarian bombings and a string of parcel bombs mailed in Karachi in October.

Police say they believe Ramzi was planning a new attack because 11 pounds of explosives were found hidden in the fuel tank of a motorcycle in the building.

Fire officials said they believe Ramzi and the three others were killed when a rocket they were working on exploded around 9:20 a.m. local time Thursday.

Officials believe the building may have been used to store chemicals although they are not sure what type.

Karachi, a port city with a population of around 14 million, has been hit by a series of deadly blasts in recent months -- several of them linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group.

-- CNN Islamabad Bureau Chief Ash-har Quraishi contributed to this report

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