Lahore: Suicide bombers targeting the Pakistani military killed at least 39 people and wounded nearly 100 in Lahore on Friday, officials said, despite government assertions that crackdowns had weakened Taliban insurgents.
“Two suicide bombers attacked within the span of 15 to 20 seconds and they were on foot,” provincial police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar told reporters.
The dead in the attack in a military neighbourhood of the city, which is near the border with India, included five soldiers, military officials said.
Militants have renewed pressure on unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari.
There have been five blasts this week alone, including a car bomb suicide attack on a police intelligence building in Lahore on Monday that killed 13 people, and a shooting and bombing at a U.S.-based aid agency that killed 6 in the northwest.
A Reuters photographer said soldiers cordoned off the site of the blasts and were not allowing anyone to approach. Troops were also deployed on rooftops of houses. An army helicopter was flying over the area.
Rescue workers with stretchers rushed towards the blast site.
Police official Mohammad Shafiq told reporters the heads of both attackers had been found. Suicide bombers often strap exploves to their bodies and the blasts take off their heads.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned the blasts in a statement, vowing “terrorism will never be allowed to succeed in its nefarious designs.”
Pakistani authorities have said security crackdowns have weakened al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban militants fighting to topple the US-backed government.
While Taliban bases have been smashed in government offensives in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan, fighters have a history of melting away to rugged areas which are hard for the military to penetrate.
Aside from facing a stubborn insurgency at home, Pakistan is also under heavy American pressure to open a new front and go after Afghan Taliban militants in border sanctuaries, a move that would tax its stretched military.