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Suicide attacks at Pakistan Army HQ, 30 killed
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November 24, 2007 10:03 IST
Last Updated: November 24, 2007 20:19 IST

Two near-simultaneous suicide bombings killed at least 30 people, most of them military personnel, and injured many others in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi on Saturday.

Military Spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said that the blasts occurred almost simultaneously at 7.45 am local time. While one blast took place at a check post near the gate of the army's headquarters, another targeted a bus carrying defence ministry personnel near a key ISI facility on the Faizabad-Murree Road.

At least 30 people were killed and many injured in the twin bombings, security sources were quoted as saying by the media. Some reports suggested that the death toll could even be 35.

President Pervez Musharraf [Images], who had cited increasing extremism and a series of suicide attacks as one of the main reasons for imposing emergency, condemned the twin bombings.

Such acts could not deter the government from continuing its fight against terrorism, said Musharraf.

He directed the authorities to investigate the attacks and crack down on the "masterminds responsible for this heinous crime".

In the attack near the army headquarters, two soldiers manning the check post in Saddar area were injured when the suicide attacker blew himself up, Arshad said.

The second attack occurred at a site opposite the defence ministry's Ojri camp and near the gate of ISI's Hamza camp facility. The suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into the bus carrying defence ministry personnel, Arshad said.

The blast triggered a devastating fire that completely destroyed the bus. Many of the dead were burnt alive while over a dozen people were injured, eye witnesses said.

The injured were rushed to various hospitals in Rawalpindi and doctors said that the condition of several was critical.

Security agencies immediately cordoned off the site of the blasts and prevented journalists from entering the area. Forensic investigators and bomb disposal experts scoured the sites for evidence.

Security was also beefed up across Rawalpindi and Islamabad, particularly around defence installations.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

However, a top militant spokesman in the Swat valley, Sirajuddin, had warned that the ultras might launch suicide attacks in retaliation to a food blockade imposed by authorities in that area. Swat is located just 160 kms from Islamabad.

Arshad also dismissed speculations about security lapses, saying, "It was a suicide attack and it was foiled near the headquarters because of security precautions which were being taken. Otherwise, the casualties would have been much higher."

The general headquarters has the offices of several top army generals, including the principal staff officers, while the Ojri camp is an installation of the defence ministry.   

Today's blasts were the latest in a string of suicide attacks on Pakistani military installations and personnel. On November 1, at least 11 people were killed when a suicide attacker rammed his motorcycle into a bus carrying Pakistan air force personnel near the Sargodha airbase in Punjab.

On October 30, at least seven people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the official residence of General Tariq Majeed, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

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