Daily Times : 30 killed in two suicide attacks in Rawalpindi

Sunday, November 25, 2007

30 killed in two suicide attacks in Rawalpindi

* Attack on bus kills 28 ISI meng Two die in attack near GHQ
* ISPR confirms 16 deaths
* Private ambulances, police not allowed near sites

By Aamir Yasin and Imran Asghar | November 25, 2007

RAWALPINDI: Two separate suicide car bombings on Saturday morning rocked the garrison town of Rawalpindi, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens more.

The first incident occurred at 7.49am when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a 72-seater bus parked in front of Ojhri Camp on Murree Road. The bus, which was carrying Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials to work, was completely destroyed according to eyewitnesses. They said 28 officials and a bystander were killed in addition to the bomber.

Shoaib Abbasi, owner of the Oriel guesthouse across the street from the intelligence compound, said that when he came out on the street after the blast, the bus was burning fiercely, reported AP. “Firemen tried to open the emergency doors while they were dousing the interior, but I can’t believe anyone inside survived because of the intensity of the fire,” he said.

GHQ attack: The second incident occurred at 8.05am as a second suicide bomber attempted to enter the General Headquarters (GHQ). Upon being asked for identification at the GHQ’s checkpost, he blew himself up, resulting in the deaths of one security official and a bystander, according to eyewitnesses.

ISPR claims: Meanwhile, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said 16 people were killed in both incidents. “Sixteen persons, including a suicide bomber, died in the suicide attack on a Ministry of Defence vehicle near Hamza Camp on Murree Road,” it said. It said the suicide bomber hit the rear of the bus, which was carrying almost 50 people. “In another incident, a suicide bomber riding in a car blew himself up near the GHQ checkpost. Two security personnel are critically injured,” it added. “Both were suicide attacks,” confirmed army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad.

Two senior intelligence officials, requesting not to be named, told AP that at least 35 people were killed. One of them, who was at the scene of the attack on the bus, said the bus was overloaded and it was believed that more than 72 people had been killed or injured.

Sealed off: Troops sealed off the entire area around Hamza Camp and GHQ soon after the blasts and no police official was allowed access to the two spots. Similarly, private ambulances were also not allowed to shift the injured and the dead to the military hospitals.

President General Pervez Musharraf and caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro condemned the two suicide blasts and expressed their grief and sorrow over the deaths that occurred. Gen Musharraf said the government would continue its crackdown against the elements that were behind the attacks and would expose them before the public. He said the government’s fight against terrorism would continue with more vigour.

Soomro, meanwhile, said the country would not be blackmailed by the elements behind the attacks. He directed the Rawalpindi administration and heads of hospitals to provide the best medical care to the injured. He also directed law enforcing agencies and police to step up security.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed condemned the incident on a private TV Channel and said this would affect the election process, as there would be less voter-turnout, reported Online.