The bus targeted by a suicide car bomber in Rawalpindi burns.
Terrorists have struck again in the seat of the Pakistani government’s power. Two suicide bombers targeted the military and intelligence agencies in the capital of Islamabad and the military city of Rawalpindi.
“One was at a check post near GHQ [general headquarters] and the other was on a bus of sensitive institution near Faizabad,” said Major General Waheed Arshad, the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations. “Both were suicide attacks.”
At least 15 people were killed and an unknown number of people were wounded. “The Rawalpindi attack targeted the last army picket less than 100 meters (yards) from the main gates of GHQ,” Reuters reported. “The bomber detonated his charge after being stopped by the soldiers on guard duty.” Two soldiers were reported to hav ebeen seriously wounded in the strike.
The second suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying personnel working for the Inter Services Intelligence agency. “Officials said many casualties were feared from the attack on the bus,” the Reuters report noted. Fifteen people were killed in the bus bombing.
The Pakistani military is fighting a vicious insurgency against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has been directly implicated in past suicide attacks.
But Sirajuddin, the Taliban spokesman for Swat’s radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, threatened to conduct suicide strikes if the military did not lift a blockade in Swat. The military and the Taliban have fought to a standstill in the scenic valley that was once a tourist draw.
Today’s attack was the fourth bombing targeting military and political leaders in the garrison city of Rawalpindi since July. On July 6, an unidentified group attempted to shoot down Musharraf’s airplane as it left the airport at Rawalpindi. Musharraf was traveling with senior military and political leaders.
On September 4, a two-pronged suicide attack in Rawalpindi killed at least 26 and wounded over 70. The bombers targeted a bazaar and a bus carrying intelligence agents. On October 30, a suicide bomber killed seven people, including two police officers, and wounded 14 outside of the military headquarters.
Islamabad has suffered a series of suicide strikes this year, including an attempt on former Prime Minister Aziz in February and the bombing of a hotel near the Lal Masjid after Pakistani forces stormed the mosque in July.
The Taliban and al Qaeda intensified their suicide campaign in the winter and spring of 2007 against targets in Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, and a host of cities and towns throughout Pakistan.
In July, al Qaeda spokesman Abu Yahya al Libi called for the Pakistani people and the military to rise up against the Musharraf regime. Al Libi was later reinforced by both al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his second in command Ayman al Zawahiri.
The largest strike so far targeted former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on the day she returned from exile. The sophisticated, multipronged ambush included suicide bombers, roadside bombers, and snipers. Over 136 were killed and 500-plus wounded.
Note: this entry was updated on 10:27 AM Eastern to reflect the updated casualty data.