At least 32 killed in Faisalabad blast; Taliban claim responsibility
LAHORE: A massive bomb blast by militants at a gas station in Faisalabad, a city in Pakistan’s central Punjab province, Tuesday killed at least 32 people and wounded 125 others, DawnNews reported.
The explosion also damaged nearby buildings.
An office of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and a local gas station were severely damaged in the blast, AP reported. Police said the attack took place close to the office of a ”sensitive” security agency but the building was undamaged, the AP report said.
Senior government official Naseem Sadiq said explosives were planted in a vehicle parked at the gas station, which also lies near police offices as well as the PIA building.
Regional police chief Aftab Cheema confirmed the attack in Faisalabad, the country’s textile-making capital.
“It was a car bomb blast. The explosive was planted in a car. We are investigating whether a suicide bomber was involved or not,” Cheema said.
Television pictures showed the station had been reduced to a pile of bricks and gnarled metal as rescue officials worked to remove rubble from the scene to search for survivors and ambulance vehicles ferried the injured away.
City commissioner Tahir Husain told a private television channel that rescue officials were heaving bricks and metal away to save those trapped.
“There are some people trapped under the building rubble. We have deployed our cranes and machinery to rescue them very soon,” he added.
Husain told a private television channel that no suicide attacker was involved.
“It was not a suicide attack. It was a planted bomb blast. The bomb exploded near the gas cylinders that triggered a bigger blast,” he said.
Husain said that the attack could have targeted government buildings close to the gas station site, some of which he said were damaged in the blast.
Taliban claim responsibility
The Pakistani Taliban said they carried out the car bombing, an AP report said.
Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the target of the blast was an office of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Ahsan said the blast was revenge for the killing of a militant by security forces in Faisalabad last year.
Pakistan has been wracked by violence, mostly targeting security officials.
Some 4,000 people have been killed in bomb blasts, suicide and gun attacks blamed on Taliban and al Qaeda fighters since July 2007.