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Twin blasts rattle Rawalpindi; 25 dead

Pakistan military confirms the death toll and says suicide bombers are responsible for the twin attacks, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Sep 05, 2007 02:32 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

At least 25 people were killed and several injured in twin bomb blasts on Tuesday morning in Rawalpindi, the city where the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) are located.

Pakistan military’s spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad confirmed the death toll and said that suicide bombers were responsible for the twin attacks.

He said: “Initial investigations show the two were carried out by suicide bombers.” According to the spokesman, the Defence Ministry’s bus was destroyed in the blast. At least 66 people were also wounded in the two attacks, he told presspersons.

The first blast ripped through the bus carrying Defence Ministry employees in the Qasim Market area of Rawalpindi, killing 18 people and injuring other 18 among which 6 were reported in a critical state.

The second blast took place about 3 km away when a suspected motorcycle bomb exploded in Rawalpindi’s RA market, in which seven people were killed and several others were wounded. RA market is one of the city’s busiest areas.

As a result of the blasts and the injuries, emergency was declared in the hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Security forces also cordoned off some areas of Rawalpindi after the incident. “It is premature to identify the nature of blasts and the culprits,” said Waheed Arshad, adding that the concerned security agencies had begun their investigations.

Attacks by militants have increased since the army stormed Islamabad’s Lal Masjid in July. Television pictures showed rescue workers at the scene, trying to cut open the wreckage to pull out injured people and bodies.

Railway Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed cautioned that if terrorist acts continued, “the elections may be put off”. However, no other government minister took this line.

It may be mentioned that the blasts come at a time when the government is holding talks with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over a possible political understanding prior to general elections later this year.

Local media reports said a meeting between a close aide of President Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister and PPP boss Benazir Bhutto would take place in Dubai on Tuesday. The blasts also come ahead of the arrival of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, scheduled for next week, and possible re-election of the president through parliament.