Suicide car bombing kills 33 in Pakistan
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 23:45
Islamabad: A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into the home of a senior PML-N leader in Pakistan's Punjab province on Tuesday, killing 33 people and injuring 90 others, including relatives of the politician.

The attack targeted the home of veteran PML-N leader Zulfiqar Khosa and a nearby market in Dera Ghazi Khan town, Deputy Inspector General of Police Mubarak Ali Athar said.

Local Commissioner Hasan Iqbal said witnesses had seen a youth driving the car into the gate of Khosa's home.

Hospital officials said 33 people were killed, including five women and two children.

Ninety others, including two relatives of Khosa, were injured in the blast, which flattened part of the politician's home and eight to 10 shops.

Two survivors and three bodies were pulled out of the rubble at the market several hours after the explosion that occurred at about 2.45 pm.

"Apparently the explosives were loaded in a car (which) hit the gate of my residence in Dera Ghazi Khan," Khosa, who was in a village near Islamabad at the time of the attack, told reporters.

He said a mosque and several shops near his home were destroyed.

Zulfiqar Khosa's son Dost Muhammad Khosa, a minister in Punjab province, said two of his cousins were injured.

Dost Muhammad described the bombing as a "direct attack on his family" while his father said the attack came "out of the blue" as he had not received threats from anyone.

Commissioner Hasan Iqbal said investigators had found body parts, including a hand and a leg, along with pieces of the car used in the attack. This, he said, pointed to the involvement of a suicide attacker.

The explosion created a 15-feet deep and 30-feet wide crater and blew out the facades of several shops and residential buildings.

Police officials said about 1,000 kg of explosives was used in the attack. The blast and debris from buildings damaged several vehicles in the market. Authorities brought in heavy machinery to remove the rubble.

Mobile phone footage aired on television showed panic-stricken people running helter-skelter moments after the blast as a plume of smoke rose into the sky.

DIG Athar said additional policemen had been brought in to tighten security in Dera Ghazi Khan town.

Today's blast was the latest in a series of suicide attacks and bombings across Pakistan that have killed over 500 people since October, when the army launched an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan tribal region.

However, it was the first attack targeting a senior leader of the Opposition PML-N.

The recent attacks have been blamed on the Taliban, who are retaliating against the military operation in the tribal belt. In the past, Dera Ghazi Khan has also witnessed sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia groups.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack in Dera Ghazi Khan, saying such cowardly acts would not deter the government's resolve to fight terrorism.

Gilani said action against terrorists will continue till their complete elimination.


First Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 23:45

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