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Pakistan : Blasts in Lahore, Karachi, kill and injure many

By Rodrick Samson

Two bomb attacks in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi killed at least 11 people today (Tuesday, January 25, 2011), and left more than 90 people wounded, officials said.

A teenage suicide bomber in Lahore blew himself up near a religious procession, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 70, in an attack claimed by Taliban militants who said they had targeted the police.

The bombing took place at a busy intersection in downtown Lahore.

About 90 minutes later a motorcycle bomb detonated in Karachi, killing two people, including a policeman, police and hospital officials said.

A doctor at Lahore city’s main Mayo Hospital, said the dead included at least three police officials and one woman.

“We have received nine bodies so far,” said Zahid Pervez.

There were 72 people wounded; 20 of them critically, including women and children, he added.

“It was suicide attack,” said senior police official, Rana Faisal.

“The bomber came close to our checkpoint, threw a bag near a car and blew himself up when policemen tried to stop him.”

Television footage showed policemen and ambulance workers carrying the wounded away with their hands and also on stretchers, while other officers tried to calm the shocked and confused crowd.

Another senior police official, Rao Sardar, said police had tried to apprehend the boy before he blew himself up.

“The policeman stopped this boy and wanted to body search him,” he said, adding that he was a teenager.

An hour and a half later a second bomb explosion in Karachi killed two people and injured four others.

“Two bodies have been brought to the hospital, one of the dead is a policeman; the other is still being identified. There are four injured brought here. One is a policeman,” said the deputy chief of Karachi’s main Jinnah Hospital, Semeen Jamali.

City police chief Fayyaz Leghari said it was a motorcycle bomb but could not yet confirm the target.

“When the bomb exploded it was huge and heard far away… we are still collecting details about the blast and wounded,” he said.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack which they said was aimed at security officials in revenge for military operations and US drone attacks targeting militants in the northwest.

“We claim responsibility for the suicide attack on police in Lahore,” said Azam Tariq, spokesman for the TTP, in a telephone call to a local news channel in Miranshah.

“We regret the loss of civilian lives in the attack and warn people to keep away from security forces and government property,” he said.

“The attack was in retaliation for drone strikes and military operations in tribal areas. We have more than 3,000 trained suicide bombers,” he added.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani “strongly condemned” the suicide attack and ordered an immediate inquiry to investigate the attack, a statement said.

Rodrick Samson is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan.

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