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Suicide bombers target ISI office in Pak; 12 killed

Last updated on: December 08, 2009 21:13 IST

Terrorists targeted Pakistan's powerful Inter State Intelligence for the second time in less than a month on Tuesday, as suicide bombers struck its office in eastern Multan city detonating their vehicle packed with up to 1,000 kg of explosives, killing at least 12 people and injuring 47 others.

The militants first drove to Qasim Bela area in Multan, the home town of Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Punjab province, in a truck and attacked security personnel manning a checkpost with small arms and rockets.

They then drove up to the ISI office situated within the high-security cantonment area and lobbed grenades before blowing up their explosives-laden vehicle, the police said. Twelve people, including four soldiers and four children, were killed in the attack, said officials of the state-run emergency services.

Forty seven injured people, including women and children, were taken to three nearby hospitals. Four of them were in a serious condition.

Multan Commissioner Muhammad Ali Gardezi described the assault as a suicide attack and said the target was the ISI office.

But there was confusion about the number of militants involved in the incident. Geo News channel reported a militant was arrested while trying to hide in a home near the ISI office. It said the man was handed over to military personnel by the residents of the house he was trying to hide in.

Security forces recovered some weapons and grenades hidden in a nearby field by the militant and took him away to an undisclosed location, the channel said.

There was, however, no official word on the development.

Gardezi said two suicide bombers carried out the attack and their heads and body parts were found outside ISI office. Other reports said three or four militants were involved. This was the second attack targeting the ISI in less than a month. On November 13, suicide bombers struck its operational headquarters in northwestern city of Peshawar, leaving 12 people dead and 65 injured.

Tuesday's attack follows the suicide bombing at a crowded market in Lahore on Monday night that killed 49 people and injured 180 others.

Another suicide bomber blew himself up outside a court complex in Peshawar on Tuesday, killing 10 people.

Reports said the ISI office and adjacent buildings bore the brunt of the blast, which caused a crater 12 feet deep and 34 feet wide. The facades of several buildings located opposite the ISI office were blown off.

Officials said they feared some people could still be buried in the rubble. Army personnel cordoned off the site after the blast as gunship helicopters hovered overhead.

A rocket launcher and some grenades were found by investigators.

There were also reports of yet another blast in Peshawar on Tuesday, though it was not known if it caused any casualties. Television footage showed a plume of smoke rising over the city, a day after 10 people were killed in a suicide attack there.

Geo News channel said the blast occurred in the Kohar Road area of the city.

Militants have carried out a series of audacious attacks on Pakistani security forces since the army launched an operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan tribal region in October.

The army claims it has killed over 600 rebels in the offensive.

Peshawar has been hit hardest by the terrorist attacks. Militants have also targeted the army's general headquarters and a mosque frequented by military personnel in Rawalpindi and the ISI's provincial headquarters in Peshawar. Over 400 people have died in these attacks, including a serving major general.
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