A suicide bomber hit a police rescue emergency office in Lahore, capital of Punjab province of Pakistan, Wednesday morning, killing at least 24 persons, most of whom are policemen. More than 250 are wounded in the attack, according to the officials.
The city police officials said that the attackers first opened fire on the first barrier and threw hand grenades on security men after which a suicide attacker blew himself close to the building. The building collapsed inflicting the heavy casualty, the first major attack after the government launched an aggressive operation against the militants in the northern part of the country. The actual target was the office of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which is located near the police office and a part of which is damaged in the attack, police sources added.
Some sources said that the death toll has mounted 30, but this was not confirmed by the independent sources. The injured have been shifted to different hospitals for medical aid. Reliable sources said that most of the casualties were the police.
There was no immedate claim for the attack, but it is believed to be carried out by the extremist elements in response of the Swat operation, where the army officials claimed to have killed at least 12 militants on Wednesday. The operation has forced around 2 million people to flee the area.
President of Pakistan, Asif Zardari, immediately condemned the attack while the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, admitted that it was a militant reaction against the Swat operation.
The city of Lahore has been a victim of suicide attacks every time there is operation in the tribal or settled areas of the NWFP, or whenever the government has taken a serious action against the militants.