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Pak blasts kill 29
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Unfortunate, says India

New Delhi, September 4
India today termed as “unfortunate” the twin blasts in Rawalpindi. “It is very unfortunate. We have sympathies for the victims,” external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here on the sidelines of a conference of editors from India, Brazil and South Africa. — PTI

At least 29 persons were killed and over 60 injured in two bomb blasts near the general headquarters of the garrison town of Rawalpindi this morning.

Army spokesperson Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad confirmed 25 deaths, mostly civilian employees of the defence ministry working in atomic AQ Khan Laboratories Kahuta.

The employees were killed in the first explosion in a bus carrying them to Kahuta. Shortly afterwards, another bomb loaded in a motorcycle exploded in a market, killing seven persons.

The explosions took place less than a kilometer from the army headquarters and a kilometer from President Pervez Musharraf’s camp office.

The spokesperson said initial investigations revealed that both were suicide explosions and linked to the same network.

Briefing mediapersons, interior ministry spokesperson Brig Javed Cheema said the explosions could have links with current near-insurgency situation in the tribal areas and developments in Afghanistan.

Attacks by militants have also increased since the army stormed the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July and the tribal rebels vowed to avenge it.

The bus was completely destroyed in the blast, which could be heard across the city. Mutilated bodies of the passengers, some of whom belonged to the security agency, lay scattered all around.

One of the dead in the bus attack was identified as sergeant in the intelligence services.

In the afternoon, security agencies discovered another unexploded bomb in a bag outside the defence ministry. It was defused by the bomb disposal squad.

Musharraf later presided over a meeting to discuss the political situation against the backdrop of upcoming presidential election and ongoing talks with PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto by his emissaries in Dubai.

The blasts and the situation arising out of kidnapping of around 300 Pakistan troops by pro-Taliban tribal militants in the Waziristan area, bordering Afghanistan, was also discussed. Musharraf denounced the blasts as an act of terrorism and reiterated the government’s resolve to combatting militancy and extremism. He said the culprits would be nabbed soon.

The latest attacks add to concerns over security as these happened in a military zone. An army spokesperson, however, said the venue was not part of the nearby high-sensitive area where the headquarters and President’s army house.

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