Pakistan: Deadly suicide bomb strikes northeastern garrison town

17 03 2009

Source: AKI / DAWN

Rawalpindi, 17 March (AKI/DAWN) – A suicide bomber hit a crowded bus-stop in the northeastern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi late on Monday, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 25 others. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
A woman and a child were among those killed and political workers, pedestrians and passengers were injured. Three of the injured were in critical condition. Body parts were reportedly strewn across the scene, making identification of the victims difficult.
According to witnesses, a man exploded himself after getting out of a vehicle parked near a crowed wagon and several other vehicles at around 9:15 pm local time.
The blast damaged at least eight vehicles, several shops, a restaurant and nearby buildings.
Malik Iftikhar, who was injured in the blast, told Pakistani daily Dawn that he was sitting in a restaurant when the explosion took place. Chaos and panic ensued, he said. He fell on the ground and the restaurant was filled with smoke. The area was littered with human flesh and glass shards.
Rawalpindi regional police officer Nasir Khan Durrani said the blast had not left any crater. “It was an act of terrorism, apparently a suicide attack. The motive was to spread panic,” he said.
Durrani said the entire country faced a terrorist threat. According to bomb disposal experts, seven to 10 kilogrammes of explosives had been used in the attack.
The bombing was the first terrorist attack targeting the general public in Rawalpindi since 2002.
The attack came after a day of high political drama, in which Pakistan, in which, under alleged pressure from the United States, president Asif Ali Zardari reinstated sacked former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and promised to allow Pakistan’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif to return to elected office.
Security sources said the bomber might have originally planned to sabotage protests by lawyers aimed at restoring Chaudhry and other top judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf. After failing to do so, the bomber may have decided to target a crowded area instead, the sources said.