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Blasts hit Pakistani naval school

Latest update : 2008-03-04

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance of a Pakistani naval college in the eastern city of Lahore, killing at least five people and injuring several others in the country's fourth attack in five days.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a prestigious naval college in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Tuesday, killing at least five people and injuring 19, officials said.
   
One bomber rammed a motorcycle into the gate of the Naval War College in the heart of Pakistan's second biggest city, then the second drove another bike into the parking lot where he detonated explosives, they said.
   
The attack was the fourth in five days in Pakistan, posing a major challenge to the country's incoming government, set to be a coalition led by the parties of slain ex-premier Benazir Bhutto and former premier Nawaz Sharif.
   
President Pervez Musharraf condemned the bombings, vowing that the "government will not be cowed down by such acts" and expressing the "resolve to fight against extremism and terrorism," the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
   
The blasts sent thick black smoke billowing over the college and scattered debris and human remains at the scene, which is just off the city's historic Mall Road. Two buses and several cars caught fire afterwards.
   
"Two suicide bombers attacked the naval college," Lahore police chief Malik Mohammad Iqbal told AFP.
   
"The first drove into the security post and they opened fire. His head was blown over the wall into the naval compound by the force of the blast," Iqbal added.
   
"He cleared the way for the second bomber to drive into the parking lot where he also exploded himself."
   
Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said five people were killed and another 19 were wounded, according to initial reports.
   
Navy spokesman Captain Akbar Naqi confirmed there were two suicide bombers and said that one navy personnel was among those killed.
   
The Naval War College trains senior naval officials from Pakistan and from other countries including China, Sri Lanka and at least a dozen Muslim nations.
   
"The blasts were so huge they shook the windowpanes of my office opposite the college. I thought the building was collapsing," Lahore lawyer Arif Saeed told AFP.
   
Pakistan has been combating an Islamist insurgency led by Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters since Musharraf joined the US-led "war on terror" in 2001, but the violence has soared since.
   
Around 600 people have died since the start of this year in suicide attacks, roadside bombings and clashes, mainly along the Afghan border in troubled northwestern Pakistan but also in major cities.
   
The blasts came as the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited Pakistan and held talks with Musharraf focusing on regional security, officials said.
   
Mullen "was appreciative of the sacrifices rendered" by Pakistan's military, state media said.
   
The US officer also met army chief General Ashfaq Kiyani, who took over Musharraf's military role in November and has pledged to continue Pakistan's commitment against extremism.
   
But the country is struggling to turn the tide against the Islamists, despite elections last month that saw hardline parties ousted from northwest Pakistan and Musharraf's own allies trounced by opposition parties.
   
Tuesday's attack comes two days after a suicide bomber struck at a meeting of anti-militant tribal elders in the northwestern town of Darra Adam Khel, killing 43 people.
   
On Friday, another bomber killed at least 44 people in the northwestern Swat valley at the funeral of a policeman killed in a roadside bombing. On Saturday, a bomber killed two people in the Bajaur tribal district.
   
The army's top medical officer, Lieutenant General Mushtaq Baig, was killed in a suicide attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on February 25.
   
Separately, Pakistani troops opened fire on a pick-up truck carrying Islamic militants in the troubled Mohmand tribal area on Monday, blowing up the vehicle and killing five rebels, the army said.

Date created : 2008-03-04

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