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Faisalabad car bomb kills 24, injures more than 100
40-50kg of explosives used in blast, police say
By Abdul Nasir Khan
LAHORE – A terrorist attack killed 24 and injured more than 100 in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city, March 8, police said. The bomb might have been directed at an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) regional office.
“The bomb was planted in a car stationed at a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in the Civil Lines Area of the city,” Regional Police Officer (RPO) Aftab Cheema said.
The culprits used 40-50kg of explosives, the bomb squad said.
“The blast … shattered the whole area and destroyed the CNG station and adjacent buildings,” an eyewitness said. “Many vehicles and a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) building and an Army Recruitment Centre (were hit). A part of the PIA building collapsed, causing casualties.”
Abid Sher Ali, an MP from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said that before the explosion, a militant threw two hand grenades and opened fire on the ISI building.
Medics rushed the injured to city hospitals, where most are in stable condition, doctors said.
Terrorists have used the same tactic of combined gunfire and car bombs elsewhere, turning their weapons on sensitive installations and intelligence agency offices in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan before hitting Faisalabad.
The most recent attack on a security agency building was the November truck bombing of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Police building in Karachi.
Terrorists also previously attacked a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) building in Lahore March 15, 2008; an ISI building and Police Rescue 15 building in Lahore May 27, 2009; an ISI building in Multan December 9, 2009; and a Special Investigation Agency building in Lahore March 8, 2010. The combined death toll exceeded 80.
Such assaults might be meant to pressure military and security forces into slowing their campaigns against the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and Punjabi Taliban, analysts argue.
The TTP and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) perceive the FIA and ISI as their enemies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
An explosives-laden vehicle is a long-time terrorist technique, Naveed Elahi, senior superintendent of Special Branch Police of Punjab, said.
“This is identical to terrorists working at the international level and proves that TTP and LJ have links with al-Qaeda,” Naveed said. “We were expecting an attack before it happened in Karachi because terrorists attacked (earlier) in the same pattern in Basra, Iraq.”
The TTP doesn’t care whom it kills and tries to devastate intelligence and investigative agencies with vehicle bombs to hinder their operations and demoralise security forces, said Naveed, who is considered an authority on the Taliban.
“They don’t want to waste their human resources without any ‘achievement’ and prepare themselves well before hitting the target,” Naveed said.
Protecting everything is impossible, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said. The government is doing its best to protect citizens and installations, he told Central Asia Online.
“We have provided security to all sensitive buildings and vulnerable personalities … but intelligence reports sometimes prove wrong,” he said.