March 11th, 2008 03:07 EST
Pakistan suffers back-to-back bombings
By Steve Herman
Two bomb blasts have rocked Pakistan's second-largest city, killing at least 20 people and wounding an estimated 175 others. One of the explosions occurred at the headquarters of a federal police agency, packed with workers.
Shortly after the work day began at the multi-story Lahore headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency, a powerful explosion tore through the building, killing many employees. Residents living kilometers away say the blast was so powerful that it rattled windows and shook walls in their homes. Some children at a nearby girls' school were treated for minor injuries.
At the police agency, rescuers quickly found and removed the bodies of the dead.
A doctor supervising the rescue effort, Rizwan Naseer, speaking to Dawn television, says despite concerns the severely damaged structure could collapse at any time, the search for additional victims continued. "We are just now doing a final search to clear any further bodies which are possibly there in the limited rubble in the front of the building."
Dazed survivors, some with their clothing torn, could be seen standing amid the rubble.
Authorities issued conflicting reports -- one saying that a bomb had been planted near an elevator shaft. Another official told reporters a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber blew up near the reception area. Pakistani media reports some terrorism suspects were in the building, undergoing interrogation.
A separate blast, around the same time, in a high-security, upscale residential area, killed at least five people, including two children. That explosion took place at a house rented out to a medium-sized advertising agency, which has multi-national corporations as clients. The chief executive officer of the SB&B agency told reporters he has no idea why his company would have been targeted.
Local media report the adjacent house is owned by a retired judge, whose son is a police officer. An officer on the scene told reporters two men in a van drove onto the grounds of the residence and the vehicle exploded, flattening the house.
The Tuesday morning explosions came a week after two suicide bombings at a naval college in Lahore. Those blasts killed at least five people.
There have been six bombings since the February 18 national elections. The two largest opposition parties are attempting to form a new government that is expected to find itself at odds with President and former General Pervez Musharraf, a strong ally of the United States in its anti-terrorism campaign.