Suicide Attacks In Rawalpindi And Lahore Kill 36

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy commercial area near the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and at a police checkpost in Lahore killing at least 36 people, including military personnel, and injuring 70
suicide attacks in rawalpindi and lahore kill 36...
PTI November 03, 2009 10:06 IST

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up in a busy commercial area near the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and at a police checkpost in Lahore killing at least 36 people, including military personnel, and injuring 70 others, in the latest of a series of deadly terrorist attacks that have rocked Pakistan.  

A motorcycle-borne bomber detonated his explosives outside a state-run bank in Rawalpindi, less than a km from the heavily-fortified General Headquarters, killing 35 people, mostly pensioners and army personnel.  

Police said the motorcycle bomber drove into the pensioners, who had come to collect their salaries from the National Bank, and blew himself up.  

Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that body parts were thrown into nearby buildings. Rescue service officials put the death toll at 35, while police said 45 injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Most of those killed were army personnel.  

In the evening, two suicide bombers blew themselves up when their car was stopped by policemen on the outskirts of Lahore, killing a policeman and injuring 25 others.  

Quoting an eyewitness, Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore told PTI that the two attackers, who were in a white car, detonated their explosives when policemen stopped them at a check post at Babu Sabu outside the city. 

One of three policemen who were seriously injured died in hospital, police said, adding several civilians were also among the injured.  

At least three vehicles were damaged by the blast.  Police said body parts of the bombers, including a severed head, had been found. 

"Three legs have been found at the spot and this shows that two suicide bombers were involved in the incident," Rathore said. 

He said it was not clear whether the car was approaching Lahore from Gujranwala or the garrison city of Rawalpindi. The interchange at Babu Sabu is the main entry point for Lahore.  The bomb disposal squad defused more explosives that were found in the car used by the bombers. The area was cordoned off and traffic on the busy motorway was stopped for some time.  

The militant attacks forced United Nations to pull out most of its expatriate staff and suspend long-term development work in the troubled North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.  

Announcing the scaling down of its operations in the country, a UN spokesman cited security concerns as the reason for the decision.  

A surge in violence has left more than 300 dead since last month as Pakistan presses ahead with a military offensive against the Taliban in the lawless Waziristan tribal region.  

Several army officers' messes, sensitive military installations and other hotels are located near the blast site in Rawalpindi. 

Police officials said the suicide bomber blew himself up outside the bank when police teams tried to intercept him. 

Witnesses said at least two military police personnel, five women and several private security guards and passers-by were killed. Military and paramilitary personnel cordoned off the area and diverted traffic from the road in front of the hotel. Ambulances rushed bodies and the injured to hospitals, where an emergency was declared. 

Several cars and motorcycles parked outside the hotel and the bank were damaged by the explosion, which also shattered the windows of nearby buildings. 

Zahid Dara, who witnessed the attack, told reporters: "I fell off my motorcycle when the blast occurred. People began running helter-skelter in panic." 

"I saw the blast occurred outside the hotel, near which there are several banks, travel agencies and other offices". 

Dara said he had seen private security guards and army personnel among the dead and injured. "Several people in cars that were passing the hotel were  also killed," he said. 

The attack came nearly a month after an audacious terrorist strike on the General Headquarters in which 14 people were killed before most of the attackers were gunned down by army commandos. 

The attackers had also taken nearly 50 people hostage in an office of the Military Intelligence agency. 

Meanwhile, the government today raised bounties on the heads of 19 Tehrik-e-Taliban militants including its chief Hakimullah Mehsud to a whopping Rs 41 crore or USD 5 million. 

The rewards for the Taliban rouges gallery was announced with the government splashing black-and-white advertisement in Urdu on the front page of the mass-circulated The News daily. They were also featured on TV channels. PTI

 
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