A bomber on Tuesday blew himself up near the official residence of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] in Rawalpindi, killing at least seven persons and injuring 11 others.
Army personnel immediately cordoned off the blast site on G T Road in the high-security cantonment area, about half a kilometer from the Army House where Musharraf was chairing a meeting of chief ministers and governors of the four provinces and top army officials at the time of the attack.
The suspected bomber, believed to be on a bicycle, blew himself up when he was stopped by the police manning a picket near the residence of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee Tariq Majid, city police officer Saud Aziz said.
"We have collected the legs, head and the fingers of the suicide attacker and sent it for identification," Aziz said, adding that the bomber probably intended to target the top army official's residence.
"It was a suicide attack," Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said. Among the dead were the suicide attacker, three policemen and two civilians. The blast also hit a van that was passing by the area. Ambulances rushed to the site and ferried the injured to nearby hospitals.
Forensic experts scoured the site of the blast for evidence. The meeting had been called by Musharraf to discuss the security situation across the country in view of the rising violence by Islamic extremists.
Ahmed, a close aide of Musharraf, said a red alert had been sounded in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Sunday following intelligence reports that two to three suicide bombers had entered the area.
Rashid said measures had prevented the suicide attacker from targeting any key installations or personalities in the area.
"Such attacks are against the ideals of Islam," Ahmed said. Reports had said the suicide attackers had entered the Pakistani capital to carry out blasts in retaliation for the operation launched by security forces against militant followers of pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah in the Swat region of North West Frontier Province where over 50 extremists were killed.
Security agencies had intensified checking of vehicles and set up numerous check posts in Islamabad and Rawalpindi since Sunday.
The strike comes within a fortnight of the suicide attack on the motorcade of former prime minister Benzair Bhutto in Karachi, hours after her return from eight-year self exile, that killed nearly 140 people and left hundreds injured.
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