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Terrorists strike Rawalpindi: leave 25 dead, 50 injured

Islamabad, PakistanThe nation is still heeling from the last bloody car bomb blast in Meena bazaar in Peshawar and twin blast in International Islamic University when another tragedy hit in the form of yet another powerful suicide blast in Rawalpindi which killed 25 people and left more than 50 injured. The blast was so powerful that it shook almost half of the city.

At least 25 people were killed and over 50 sustained injuries and precious properties were destroyed in the deadliest suicide blast outside official bank and near to Private hotel located on a Mall Road in Cantonment area of Rawalpindi.

The blast took place at around 10:39am, destroyed around dozen vehicles parked in the hotel parking lot. Soon after the blast, law-enforcement agencies cordoned off the area and closed Mall road for every kind of traffic as well.

The hotel was evacuated following the blast. Emergency was declared in hospitals and around 50 injured including soldiers were brought to the hospitals

City Police Officer Rao Mohammad Iqbal while talking to Private TV Channel has said it was a suicide blast in which 20 people were killed and dozens other injured. 5 women and 2 and a half-year-old infant was also among the deceased.

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle after being chased by Police blew himself outside a bank where a large number of retired Government servant were receiving their pension, Private TV Channel quoted sources as saying.

The security forces have got CCTV footage of blast. All the educational institutes were closed in Rawalpindi after the blast. Parents were asked to take their children to home.

District Headquarters hospital received 24 bodies and 34 injured including two head clerics of FG Quaid-e-Azam Public School Khurram and Saeed and two traffic warden, sources said. The witnesses said that the attacker first opened fire at the security personnel guarding the main entrance of the hotel to clear his motorcycle entry into the area.

He took the motorcycle to the parking lot of the hotel close to the bank and blew it up killing 25 people including and wounding 50others.

The number of casualties could rise as some of the injured are said to be in critical condition. An eye-witness said that first he heard firing and then there was a loud bang, which left the area engulfed in thick smoke.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Capt Retd Zahid Saeed has confirmed 25 deaths and over 50 injured persons while according to spokesman rescue 1122 emergency service 19 people lost their lives in the attack. It may be mentioned, the GHQ is located 500 yards away from blast site.

Another eyewitness said thick smoke engulfed the area after the blast at a time when hundred of people were busy in collecting their salaries from the bank. “When I regained senses, I saw bodies lying all over the places and the wounded crying for help,” he added.

The blast exposed the poor intelligence network of the law-enforcement agencies that has placed the lives and properties of the people at the mercy of terrorists. After recent wave of terrorism, the city is almost sealed for the past many days as barricades have been placed at all the entry points.

“The incident showed the security measures were nothing, but only there to bother the ordinary citizens. There were intelligence reports about terrorist incident so how did the terrorists enter the city limits?” a resident questioned.

5 deceased in district headquarters hospital were identified as Mohammad Afzal, Sarfraz, Tariq, Mohammad Arshad and Mohammad Shabir.

Schools were closed in Rawalpindi after the blast and parents were asked to take their children back to homes. Former Federal Minister and Head Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has made it clear the nation has to face more terrorist strike due to offensive against militants in South Wazirisitan.

“We are in state of war and the upcoming four to six months is sensitive”, he said, adding that, we have no option instead of crushing militants in South Wazirisitan. Replying to a question, he said, Rawalpindi and Peshawar are easy to target by militants.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani
strongly condemned the blast in Rawalpindi that killed several and reiterated resolve that the government will not to be deterred by such cowardly acts.

The President said the government would not let the terrorists to play with the lives and property of the people and would continue to wage a full scale operation till their complete elimination.

The President asked the concerned authorities to submit him a report at the earliest and make all efforts to arrest the perpetrators. He prayed to Almighty Allah to shower his blessings on those who lost their lives and courage for the families to bear their loss.

The Prime Minister said the government had launched a full scale operation against the miscreants and would not be cowed down by such heinous attacks.

He said the government was fully alive to its responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the people and was taking all necessary measures in this regard.

Gilani prayed to Almighty Allah to bless those who lost their lives and directed best possible treatment for the injured.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, Senior NWFP Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour, Provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Secretary Information PPP Fauzia Wahab, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and others also condemned the blast and prayed for the departed souls and expressed condolence with the bereaved families.

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