Blast near Musharraf office kills five

Rawalpindi, October 30:

A suicide attacker blew himself up near the office of Pakistan’s military president today, killing five people and wounding several more, officials said.

The attack was likely to heighten fears for Pakistan’s stability just as it prepares for crucial parliamentary elections and faces a growing threat from Islamic militants.

The bomb went off at a checkpoint in Rawalpindi, just half-km from Army House. President Gen Pervez Musharraf was safely inside at the time, his spok- esman Rashid Qureshi said.

Mohammed Saeed, a city police official, said the lone bomber walked up to the checkpoint guarding the road leading to Musharraf’s office and the residences of top generals and blew himself up.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said two police officers and three civilians were killed and 11 other people, including five police officers, were wounded. The attacker also died.

An AP photographer saw emergency workers remove the torn body of an elderly man killed as he was riding by on a bicycle.

Police said women and children aboard a passing minibus were also among the dead and wounded. Television footage showed schoolbags abandoned on the seats of the vehicle. Its windows were blown out.

Investigators collected body parts and other evidence from the scene, including part of the bomber’s head, which had lodged in an overhanging tree.

Fortified army posts on both sides of the checkpoint and the gate to the residence of Gen Tariq Majid, the army’s No 3 commander, were scarred with shrapnel and spattered with blood.