Deaths in Pakistan Swat blast

Fourteen killed in attack on security checkpoint a day after suicide bombers hit Lahore.

    Security on roads

    Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani author and commentator, said shops and market places in Lahore were "empty" following the attacks.

    "There's a lot of security on the roads; traffic is very thin; people are staying indoors as much as they can," he told Al Jazeera from Punjab province.

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    "The bazaars are virtually empty. People have really been rattled by the bombing attack; about nine bombs that went off - two, of course, creating the most damage with about 60 dead."

    "There's also a real problem here in Punjab province because the government, the military, the intelligence agencies, the provincial government have all been in a state of denial about the fact that there're militant groups who are separate from the Pakistan Taliban but allied to them," he added.

    "There ... really has not been any kind of clampdown upon them. And it is some of these groups whose members have perpetrated the attacks in Lahore this week."

    The Lahore blasts a day earlier, which also targeted security forces, occurred in RA Bazaar, a residential and commercial neighbourhood in the city where several security agencies have facilities.

    "Two suicide bombers attacked within the span of 15 to 20 seconds and they were on foot," Tariq Saleem Dogar, the chief of Punjab police, said.

    Hours later, residents across Lahore were urged to stay at home after five blasts targeted the Allamma Iqbal Town area.

    At least two people were reported killed in these explosions, which officials said were not very powerful.

    'Low-intensity bombs'

    "These were locally made, low-intensity bombs in which a very small quantity of explosives was used," Mazhar Ahmed, a bomb-disposal official, said.

    No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's blasts, but the government blamed the Taliban.

    A suicide car bombing targeted a police intelligence building in the same city on Monday, killing 13 people.

    Pakistani authorities have said security crackdowns and offensives against Taliban strongholds have weakened the Pakistani Taliban.
       
    Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, said the army offensives and recent arrests of the group's leaders had been followed by a period of calm.

    But he said the latest attacks seemed to point to a fresh spike in violence.

    "Today's attack in Lahore could be a clear message from the Taliban that although they were driven away from places like Swat, and their leadership is being hunted by the Americans and the Pakistani intelligence, they still have the capability to inflict maximum damage...," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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