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13 killed in Taliban attack near Pak army HQ

Islamabad: At least 13 people, including six soldiers, were today killed and 24 others injured in a Taliban suicide attack in a market close to the Army headquarters in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi, a
PTI January 20, 2014 14:00 IST
PTI
Islamabad: At least 13 people, including six soldiers, were today killed and 24 others injured in a Taliban suicide attack in a market close to the Army headquarters in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi, a day after suicide bombing inside a cantonment killed 20 troops.  

The suicide bomber, who was riding a cycle, blew himself up after he was intercepted by Army personnel in the market which is very close to the Army headquarters and other important military institutions.

The market, a short walk from the army headquarters, is in located in one of the most secure areas of the city, said police chief Akhtar Hayat Lalika.

The blast came on a day when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for a special cabinet meeting to approve the draft of National Security Policy that aims to outline the steps to be taken to tackle the menace of terrorism and extremism.  

Soon after the blast, Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and the Prime Minister spoke to each other over the phone.  The injured have been shifted to various hospitals, including the Combined Military Hospital.  

The blast took place in front of the National Logistics Cell building and the RA police station.  According to SSP Operations, the suicide bomber was between 18 and 20 years of age.

The victims include an 18-year-old boy who was heading to his college.

Preliminary probe suggest that the suicide bomber was wearing a jacket stuffed with about 10 kg of explosives.  The intensity of the blast shattered glass windows in the area.

Security was put on high alert throughout the area after the blast. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Spokesman for the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Shahidullah Shahid said the group had carried out the attack in Rawalpindi, adding that it was in response to the ongoing military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the killing of the militant leader Waliur Rehman.  

Rehman was killed in a US drone strike last year.  President Mamnoon Hussain and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the blast.  

Today's attack came a day after a blast in cantonment in Bannu district which killed 20 people and injured 30, prompting Prime Minister Sharif to cancel his visit to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.  

Yesterday's attack was also claimed by the TTP, with its spokesman saying the group's onslaught on security forces would continue.