Blasts near Pakistani capital kill 24

Officials suggest the bombings were the work of Islamic militants.

pakistan blast 224.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
pakistan blast 224.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Two bombs ripped through a Pakistani army bus and a commercial district in a city near the capital on Tuesday, killing at least 24 people, the army said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions, which injured dozens and deepened the sense of crisis in Pakistan amid political uncertainty ahead of elections. Officials suggested the bombings were the work of Islamic militants. The first bomb exploded on the bus early Tuesday morning as it traveled through Rawalpindi, a garrison city about seven miles south of Islamabad. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said the bus belonged to the Ministry of Defense, and police said many of the victims were soldiers. Television pictures showed how the blast had ripped the roof off the white bus and blown out all the windows. As ambulances transported victims from the bus blast, a second bomb triggered on a motorcycle went off in one of Rawalpindi's commercial districts, killing several more people, said Zainul Haq, a city police official. Arshad, speaking on Geo television, said 24 people had died and 66 more were wounded. He said it was unclear if suicide attackers were involved. Officials said the blasts were still under investigation and that it was too early to say who was responsible. However, Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz-ul Haq said they could be a reaction to the war in Afghanistan and Pakistani military operations near the Afghan border. Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the military, led by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and home to many thousands of troops. "This is all probably because of the situation presently in Afghanistan and in Waziristan," a militant stronghold in Pakistan's northwest, Haq said on Dawn News televisions. "We are the frontline state in the war against terror, and we are suffering the most." Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has witnessed scores of bomb attacks and other acts of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks. Officials have blamed pro-Taliban and al-Qaida elements for most of the attacks.