Blast near Pakistan army headquarters kills 24

Monday, November 2, 2009

Location of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

A suicide bomber has killed at least 24 people near the Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi when he detonated explosives while riding on a motorbike outside a bank, several hundred metres away from army headquarters. Gunmen had kept up a 24-hour hostage-taking assault last month at those same headquarters.

Many people, such as retired and serving military officials, civilians, had come to the bank to collect their salaries, were killed or wounded by the blast. Many hospitals declared emergency services and rushed to help the people out. All schools and colleges around the city were closed.

Soon after the bomb blast, military personnel patrolled the road and diverted all the traffic in front of the bank and Shalimar hotel beside it. Most of the people who died were wounded in the blast were mainly military officials.

The bomb blast destroyed many window panes in the building and in neighbouring buildings. Raja Sajid, who was an eyewitness to the incident, helped people into the ambulances. Television stations showed ambulances and police vehicles racing to the scene. “I helped the rescuers and put several of them in the ambulances. An old man stained in blood was crying for help," he said.

The blast comes as the United Nations announced it was withdrawing its international staff from northwestern Pakistan due to security concerns. Militants carried out several retaliatory attacks last month that killed hundreds of people.