Suicide blasts in Rawalpindi, Lahore kill 37

Suicide blasts in Rawalpindi, Lahore kill 37

$5 mn bounty on Taliban heads

Suicide blasts in Rawalpindi, Lahore kill 37

Pakistani police officers keep vigil at a checkpoint in Shakhupura near Lahore. AP

A motorcycle-borne bomber detonated his explosives outside a state-run bank in Rawalpindi, less than a kilometre from the heavily-fortified General Headquarters, killing 35 people, mostly pensioners and army personnel.

Police said the motorcycle bomber drove into the pensioners, who had come to collect their salaries from the National Bank, and blew himself up.

Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that body parts were thrown into nearby buildings. Rescue service officials put the death toll at 35, while police said 45 injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Most of those killed were army personnel.
In the evening, two suicide bombers blew themselves up when their car was stopped by policemen on the outskirts of Lahore injuring at least 15 persons. Police said no one was dead in the attack barring the two bombers.

Quoting an eyewitness, Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore said the two attackers, who were in a white car, detonated their explosives when the police stopped them at a check post at Babu Sabu outside the city. Two policemen were seriously injured in the explosion, Rathore said. Several civilians were among the injured. At least three vehicles were also damaged.

The police said body parts of the bombers had been found.

“Three legs have been found at the spot and this shows that two suicide bombers were involved in the incident,” Rathore said.

UN pulls out staff

The militant attacks forced United Nations to pull out most of its expatriate staff and suspend long-term development work in the troubled North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Announcing the scaling down of its operations in the country, a UN spokesman cited security concerns as the reason for the decision. A surge in violence has left more than 300 dead since last month as Pakistan presses ahead with a military offensive against the Taliban in the lawless Waziristan tribal region.

Several army officers’ messes, sensitive military installations and other hotels are located near the blast site in Rawalpindi. Witnesses said at least two military police personnel, five women and several private security guards and passers-by were killed.

The military police and paramilitary personnel cordoned off the area and diverted traffic from the road in front of the hotel. Ambulances rushed bodies and the injured to hospitals, where an emergency was declared.


Meanwhile, the government on Monday raised the bounties on the heads of 19 Tehrik-e-Taliban militants, including its chief Hakimullah Mehsud, to a whopping Rs 41 crore  ($5 million).

The rewards for the Taliban rouges gallery was announced with the government splashing black-and-white advertisement in Urdu on the front page of ‘The News daily’. They were also featured on TV channels.

Bounty of Rs 5 crore was offered for Hakimullah Mehsud, who took over as the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August.

Bounties of Rs 2 crore were offered for other Taliban commanders Mohammad Raees Khan Mehsud, Maulvi Azmatullah Mehsud, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, Mufti Noor Saeed, Maulvi Shameem, Ameerullah, Naseeruddin, Shah Faisal, Sher Azeem, Jaleel and Mohammad Ismael.

Rewards of Rs 1 crore were offered for militant leaders Azmatullah Batani, Arfeshaheen, Mohammad Anwar Kandapur, Abdullah Shah, Maulvi Abdul Wali and Khan Saeed.