40 killed as car bomb reduces Lahore building to rubble (Third Lead)

May 27th, 2009 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Lahore, May 27 (IANS) Terror revisited Lahore Wednesday when a massive car bomb exploded outside a building in the busy Civil Lines area killing an estimated 40 people and injuring over 100.
The car bomb, that packed in about 100 kg of explosives, went off just outside the three-storeyed Rescue-15 Building that collapsed with the impact of the blast. The building that housed emergency police is located close to the provincial headquarters of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Two suspects were arrested and helicopters could be seen hovering over the area as rescue workers tried desperately to pull out people from the debris and troops took positions on the rooftops of the nearby buildings.

Giving details of how the terror attack began on a busy weekday morning, Sajjad Bhutta, a senior government official, said that a car carrying several gunmen pulled up in a street between the offices of the emergency police and the ISI.

“As some people came out from that vehicle and starting firing at the ISI office, the guards from inside that building returned fire,” Bhutta told reporters.

As the firing continued, the car suddenly exploded.

Bhutta estimated that 40 people had been killed, among them 12 police officers.

At least 27 police trainees were killed.

Gunshots were also heard in the area after the explosion that shattered the windowpanes of nearby buildings and destroyed many vehicles.

“The moment the blast happened, everything went dark in front of my eyes. The way the blast happened, then gunfire, it looked as if there was a battle going on,” said an eyewitness Muhammad Ali.

The blast took place on a day when Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was to be presented in the Lahore High Court close by.

“The bomb disposal squad said 100 kg of explosives has been used in car bomb attack,” The News website said. It added that a suicide jacket and a hand grenade had also been recovered from the blast site.

According to Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik, the militants had been defeated in the northwest and had therefore turned towards Lahore.

“The situation is now under control in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and operations are on in Swat. We had been forewarned of the possibility of such an attack,” he told reporters in Karachi.

The attack comes two months after a team of 12 terrorists ambushed and fired rocket propelled grenades at a convoy carrying Sri Lankan players to the Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on March 3. Seven players and the team’s assistant coach were injured and six Pakistani police officials, who were providing protection to the bus carrying the players, were killed in the attack that shook the entire cricketing world.

Later that month, Pakistani security forces had to storm the Manawan police training academy on the outskirts of Lahore, ending a seven-hour siege by a group of heavily armed attackers who had taken over 800 trainees hostage. Four of the attackers were killed, while three were captured alive.

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