Suicide blast kills 13 in Lahore

LAHORE: A suicide car bomber destroyed offices used to interrogate suspected militants in Lahore today, killing up to 13 people in the latest attack on Pakistan’s cultural capital.

More than 65 were wounded as buildings collapsed after the bomber tried to ram a car packed with up to 600 kg of explosives into the investigations unit in Pakistan’s second city.

There were scenes of panic as volunteers and rescue workers dug with bare hands under the collapsed two-storey building and a severely damaged Muslim seminary, searching for survivors amid fears the death toll could rise.

Pakistan pointed the finger at Taliban-linked militants seeking to destabilise the nuclear-armed country of 167 million. A wave of similar attacks has killed over 130 people in Lahore over the last year.

“We had just assembled

in our classroom when

it looked as if hell had

broken with a huge blast,” Noor Mohammad, a student at the seminary told AFP.

A thick pall of smoke

accumulated outside the

window as wood panels

broke into pieces, hitting

and wounding students.

“There was panic as students, many of them carrying their injured friends, rushed to the exit in a bid to find a safe place,” Mohammad said.

Flying glass also injured passers-by. A woman and her daughter were among the dead in the city of eight million.

The wounded civilians

were mostly office workers

or parents dropping their children at school.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on members of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in Lahore to donate blood for the wounded.

“It was a police special investigation unit that was

targeted. The building was used to interrogate suspected

terrorists,” Lahore city police chief Pervez Rathore told AFP.

The blast gouged a huge crater out of the ground, crumpled roofs and littered the streets with tree branches. Bulldozers and other

heavy-lifting machinery worked to clear mounds of rubble, witnesses said.

Police officials said 13 people were killed and 65 wounded, but Khusro Pervez, Lahore’s top administration official, put the death toll at 12.

Eight government officials, including police, and four civilians, including a woman were among the dead, he said.