24 killed in car bomb explosion near ISI office in central Pak

The bomb went off close to an ISI office in the central Faisalabad.

Last Updated: Mar 08, 2011, 22:34 PM IST

Lahore: A powerful car bomb went off close
to an ISI office in the central Pakistani city of Faisalabad on Tuesday, killing 24 people and injuring more than 130 others.

The explosives-laden car was parked at a CNG station
as the attackers apparently could not get close to the
intelligence agency`s heavily-guarded office in Civil Lines
area of Faisalabad, regional police chief Aftab Cheema said.

"It is yet to be determined whether the attackers
abandoned the car near the CNG station or deliberately parked
it there," Cheema said.

The powerful blast, which occurred at about 11.30 am
local time, reduced the CNG station and three buildings to
rubble and destroyed 33 cars and motorcycles near the ISI`s
heavily guarded office in Faisalabad, considered the hub of
Pakistan`s textile industry.
Further damage was caused as cylinders exploded at the
CNG station.

Several bodies and injured persons were pulled out of
the rubble of buildings that collapsed due to the explosion.

Offices of the state-run Pakistan International
Airlines and a private courier firm were severely damaged.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed
responsibility for the attack.

Militant spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told CNN that the
target was the regional office of the ISI. Ahsan also told the
media that the attack was aimed at avenging the killing of a
militant commander in Faisalabad last year by security forces.

The death toll in the attack rose as several bodies
were pulled out of the debris hours after the blast. Several
women and children were among the 132 people injured.
About 40 kg of explosives were used in the attack and
the blast created a crater seven feet deep and 15 feet wide,
he said.

Many people living in a nearby residential colony were
injured by shards of glass and shrapnel.

The injured were taken to several nearby hospitals and
officials said they feared the toll could rise further as
several of the wounded were in a serious condition.

Heavy machinery was brought in to remove the rubble so
that rescue workers could pull out bodies and the injured.

Footage on television showed a body trapped within a
mangled vehicle and another lying in the debris of the CNG
station.

Fire fighters sprayed water on several cars that
caught fire at the CNG station. Many cars were buried under
the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Witnesses said the car bomb created a crater.

Regional police chief Cheema denied that a suicide
bomber was involved in the attack.

Militants have not carried out any major attack in
Faisalabad though analysts believe radical groups have grown
in strength in the region.

Banned groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba and
Lashker-e-Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, have
offices in nearby districts.

PTI