Pakistan investigates Lahore blasts

Police pursuing al-Qaeda angle in the wake of suicide attacks that claimed 24 lives.

    A truck is said to have run over a guard just before the blast at the FIA building in Lahore [AFP]

    The blasts happened about 15 minutes apart, and in different districts of Lahore.

    The first tore the facade of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) office, a seven-storey building.

    While al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Iraq have regularly used vehicles to launch massive attacks on buildings, such damage has rarely been inflicted on a government building in Pakistan.

    Responsibility
     
    Azhar Hasan Nadeem, the provincial police chief, said it was not yet clear if al-Qaeda was involved in the attack.

    "Of course they have a huge organisation, and they have a very vast network, but it would be premature to pinpoint exactly as to which particular organisation is responsible," he said.

    In Lahore, Malik Mohammed Iqbal, a police chief, said that an explosives-laden vehicle managed to penetrate security, drive into a parking lot and detonate close to the FIA building.
     
    Anti-terror unit
     
    The building houses part of the federal police's anti-terrorism unit - destroying offices on the lower floors and blowing out the walls around a stairwell.

    Footage from a surveillance camera shown on private television showed a small truck running over a guard and speeding through the gate seconds before the blast.
     
    The spike in violence across the country has prompted a number of Pakistanis to question Musharraf's approach to countering al-Qaida and the Taliban.
     
    Musharraf's opponents say punitive military action has only fuelled the violence.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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