Pakistan was today confronting what appeared to be a new wave of militant violence after at least 43 people were killed and more than a hundred injured by suicide bombers in Lahore.
In the fourth major incident this week, two bombers on foot struck at military vehicles within seconds of each other in the cantonment area of the city, creating gruesome scenes and terrorising locals. Ten soldiers were among the dead.
“I saw smoke rising everywhere,” eyewitness Afzal Awan told reporters, adding that many of the wounded, lying in pools of blood, were missing limbs. “A lot of people were crying.”
Hours later, another explosion shook Lahore but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Police officials said that blast apparently resulted from loose explosives - not a packed bomb - left beside a Lahore house. There were no other immediate details.
The attack was just the latest in a series of deadly incidents this week following a period in which the country’s major cities have largely been spared militant violence. On Monday, a suicide car bomber struck a building in Lahore used by police to interrogate high-value suspects, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. Meanwhile, militants also attacked the offices of the international charity, World Vision, in the north-west district of Mansehra. Six people were killed.
Imtiaz Gul, an Islamabad-based analyst and author said today: “It looks as if the militants are trying to reassert themselves and are sending a message to the state that they are still able to inflict damage.”
This week’s violence follows increased efforts by the Pakistanis and US against Afghan Taliban and al-Qa’ida militants using Pakistan’s border region as a base. A number of high-profile targets have been detained. Meanwhile, it appears that the Pakistan Taliban lost one its senior leaders, Hakimullah Mehsud, in a US missile strike in January. The Taliban has denied that he is dead.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, condemned today’s attacks, saying that “terrorism will never be allowed to succeed in its nefarious designs”.Reuse content