MULTAN, Dec 8 Two suicide attackers launched a gun-and-bomb assault on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) building here on Tuesday and killed at least eight people and injured over 45. The attackers also died.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The assailants, armed with rocket-propelled guns and hand grenades and riding a single-cabin vehicle, first fired on policemen at a checkpoint near the ISI regional headquarters. They then fought a gunbattle with security personnel manning a checkpoint in Qasim Bela Cantonment area.
According to witnesses, the attackers rammed their explosives-laden vehicle into the Bela post after being challenged by security personnel. The powerful blast damaged a number of buildings in the area. The ISI building was partially damaged.
Rescue teams and police rushed to the scene and shifted the bodies and the injured to hospitals. The army and police threw a cordon around the area.
According to rescue officers, 12 people were killed in the two attacks. But Multan Commissioner Syed Mohammad Ali Gardezi told journalists that nine people had died, including the two attackers, two security personnel, two civilians and three children. Forty-seven people were injured.
The commissioner said that 36 injured were taken to the Combined Military Hospital and 11 to Nishtar Hospital. Four of them were in a critical condition.
Seven ISI officials were reportedly injured after being hit by shards of glass.
The children killed in the blast were residents of nearby flats.
The commissioner said that some hand grenades and rockets were found. About 800-1,000 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. He said that body parts of the suicide attackers were also found.
Mr Gardezi said that security personnel did not let the attackers reach their main target -- the building of ISI.
Inter-Services Public Relations in-charge Major Farooq Feroze said that 10 people had died in the twin-attack, including two army personnel, Faisal and Shakeel, five children, a civilian and the two attackers.
He said the attackers fired two rockets before detonating their vehicle.
DIG Arif Ikram told reporters that the blast took place at 12.02pm and the main target of the attackers was the ISI building.
AFP adds “It was a suicide attack. There were two attackers who were stopped at a checkpost, but they tried to flee and security personnel fired at them,” DIG Ikram said. “The attackers returned fire and also launched two rockets, and later exploded their vehicle.”
Sailab Mehsud adds from Laddah Talking to Dawn on phone from an unspecified place, TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said their men had carried out the attacks in Multan.
“Our people will not spare security personnel and government officials if the army continues operation in Malakand, Waziristan, Orakzai and Kurram agencies,” he said, warning that the Taliban would carry out more such attacks across the country.