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A bucket of chicken could cost you your life in Pakistan

This KFC outlet in Karachi was set afire by angry Shiites after a suicide bombing at a nearby mosque. (Left: Aamir Qureshi/AFP — Getty Images)

Al Qaeda doesn’t like the Colonel. I could make a lot of extra crispy jokes here, but I think I maxed out on bad taste with yesterday’s body-parts-fall-off the-plane/bloody chainsaw story.

Four times since Pakistan allied itself with the United States campaign against terrorism, a KFC outlet here has been attacked. Each time, the owner, Rafiq Rangoonwala, dutifully cleaned up and reopened for business. This time, with six of his employees dead, he’s not so sure.

Last week, as evening prayers began at a Shiite mosque down the street, a suicide bomber believed to belong to a Sunni extremist group linked to Al Qaeda blew himself up inside the mosque compound, splattering his remains across the high courtyard wall.

Minutes later, a mob, believed to be led by outraged Shiites, stormed Mr. Rangoonwala’s KFC outlet, dousing its floors with gasoline, setting it ablaze and then blocking the entry of rescue workers. Six hours later, the six bodies were hauled out. Four had been burned. Two had frozen to death in the walk-in freezer; their bodies were found only after a mobile phone belonging to one of the men rang. The dead had all worked at the KFC, and they were all local men in their mid-20’s.

Now the restaurant is a gutted, blackened hulk, with the familiar profile of Colonel Sanders still visible and a billboard, now sooty and macabre, looming above. “Come have a chicky meal,” it reads, “cuz you are going to love this deal.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding