Rawalpindi: Three suicide bombers
today 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.
The blast occurred within the Chaklala military cantonment area near Army General Headquarters. Notably, Army is responsible for the security in the area.
The explosion at around 10.40 am caused considerable damage to the facade of Shalimar Hotel on Mall Road, less than a kilometre from the Army`s fortified General Headquarters that was besieged by a group of terrorists nearly a month ago.
Rescue service officials put the death toll at 34 while police said 45 injured were taken to nearby hospitals.
Police officials were quoted by Dawn News channel as saying that a suspected motorcycle-borne suicide bomber blew himself up outside the hotel when policemen tried to intercept him.
Many people, including pensioners, who had come to a state-run bank near the hotel to collect their salaries and pensions were among the dead and injured.
Witnesses said at least two military police personnel, five women and several private security guards and passers-by were killed.
Several Army officers` messes, sensitive military installations and other hotels are located near the building.
Military police and paramilitary personnel have encircled the whole area, while diverting traffic from the road in front of the hotel.
Television stations showed pictures of ambulances and police vehicles racing through the streets, sirens blaring.
Several cars and motorcycles parked outside the hotel and the bank were damaged by the explosion, which also shattered the windows of nearby buildings.
All schools in Rawalpindi were closed soon after the attack.
The blast has come a day after Pakistan`s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that offensive in South Waziristan has been "very successful" and the military is likely to achieve most of its objectives before winter sets in.
Since October 17 some 30,000 Pakistani troops have been waging a major assault against Taliban fighters hiding out in the formidable terrain of South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.
Taliban militants have struck several times, killing about 250 people in recent weeks, in what are believed to be retaliatory strikes against an Army offensive in Pakistan`s northwest.
Of late, an audacious terrorist attack targeted 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.
Some 115 people, mostly women and children, were killed when a car bomb packed with 150 kg of explosives ripped through a bustling commercial hub in Peshawar last week, coinciding with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s Pakistan visit.
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 news agencies 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.