Saturday, November 24, 2007

Two Suicide Attacks in Pakistan: Endgame Begins Now?

Suicide bombers hit Pakistan city BBC - November 23, 2007
Twin suicide car blasts have killed at least 15 people and injured others in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, officials have said.
One of the explosions hit a packed bus carrying security forces, a military spokesman said.

He said another blast at a checkpoint left officers badly hurt, and there are fears the death toll will rise.

Pakistan has recently seen a number of suicide bombings, including an attack in Karachi that killed at least 135.

This is the third recent strike on Rawalpindi, and the first since a state of emergency was imposed by President General Pervez Musharraf.

Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, is the main headquarters of the army in Pakistan, and the place where Gen Musharraf has his military offices.

Burned-out bus

The bomber who attacked the checkpoint blew himself up in a car, army spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

Other reports from security sources said at least one officer died in the attack.

At about the same time, a car carrying explosives reportedly rammed a Pakistani defence ministry bus heading to an intelligence services building.

An intelligence agent at the scene told the Associated Press news agency that the destroyed bus was a 72-seater, but that more people were on board.

Witnesses described a burned-out bus with dozens of ambulances stationed around.

"We saw a burning bus and people from the army trying to put the fire out. I don't think anybody inside the bus could have survived," Shoaib Abbasi, who was working at a nearby hotel, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Soldiers and police quickly sealed the scene, and forced bystanders and journalists back.

"Both were suicide attacks," Gen Arshad told local reporters.

Political turmoil

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

But the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says attacks are often suspected to have been carried out by pro-Taleban militants in revenge for military operations in the tribal areas near the Afghan border and in North-West Frontier Province.

The country is in the midst of political turmoil. Gen Musharraf has imposed emergency rule, which critics say will undermine general elections scheduled for January.

Last week, Pakistan's purged Supreme Court dismissed the last legal challenges to Gen Musharraf's re-election as president in October.

Gen Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has promised to step down as the army chief and serve his term as a civilian.

Also See:
2 Suicide Attacks Kill 35 in Pakistan: AFP

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