Over 25 people were killed in twin suicide bomb attacks in Lahore, most of them policemen belonging to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), whose office was targeted in the first incident on Tuesday.
As many as 200 persons were injured in the attacks, many of them seriously. Shortly after the attacks, the Australian cricket team announced that it would not tour Pakistan on account of security fears triggered by a wave of violence across the country.
“It was a suicide attack on the FIA office and it was the target,” Lahore police chief Malik Mohammad Iqbal said. FIA officials said at least 13 employees were among the dead. Significantly, the building also housed the offices of a US-trained special investigation unit created to counter terrorism.
A suicide bomber in a car is believed to have caused the first blast. The second, near-simultaneous blast, was also caused by a suicide car bomber and hit an advertising agency, killing another four people, including two children, police said. “An explosives-laden vehicle was rammed into the office,” interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said.
It is believed that the reason for the bombing at the advertising company would be to put a stop to advertisements featuring women, an oft-repeated demand of extremists in Pakistan.
President Pervez Musharraf, condemned the “savage act” and said these “acts of terrorism cannot deter government’s resolve to fight the scourge with full force”. The explosions came a week after two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a naval college in Lahore, killing at least five people and wounding 19.
Around 600 people have died since the start of this year in suicide attacks, roadside bombings and clashes, mainly along the Afghan border in troubled northwestern Pakistan but also in major cities. Many of the attacks have targeted the armed forces, police and security forces. The army’s top medical officer, Lieutenant General Mushtaq Baig, was killed in a suicide attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on February 25.