22 dead as blast rocks Rawalpindi (Second Lead)

Rawalpindi, Nov 2 (Inditop.com) At least 22 people were killed Monday morning when a massive explosion went off close to a hotel and a bank in this garrison city. The blast occurred barely 500 metres from the Pakistani Army Headquarters that came under Taliban attack less than three weeks back.

Hospital sources said that as many as 22 people were killed while 15 were wounded, some critically, when the blast occurred at 10.40 a.m., Geo TV reported.

Ishtiaq Shah, a police official, said the explosion occurred when government employees and security personnel were withdrawing their salaries from the bank, DPA reported.

He told Samaa television that dozens of people were injured.

The blast rocked Shalimar Hotel behind Pearl Continental Hotel located on Mall Road in the cantonment area of Rawalpindi, a city adjacent to capital Islamabad.

The bomb was reportedly planted in a vehicle.

Most of the victims of the attack were said to be security forces personnel, The Nation said.

Sajid Khan, a witness, told mediapersons that he was driving through the area when he heard the explosion.

“It was a huge blast. It was close to the General Post Office Chowk (roundabout) on Mall Road. I saw smoke rising from one of the buildings. I sped up to escape,” Khan was quoted as saying.

The heavily fortified Pakistani Army’s General Headquarters had come under attack Oct 10 when 10 terrorists in military uniform laid siege to it. At least 19 people, including nine raiders, died in the 22-hour standoff. One militant was arrested.

The latest wave of militant violence started with a suicide bombing at the offices of the UN World Food Programme in Islamabad Oct 5. Five employees of the agency were killed.

On Oct 15, gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed two police academies and the offices of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore. A car bomber struck at a police station in the northwestern town of Kohat. At least 38 people including 11 insurgents were killed in a single day.

A twin suicide bombing Oct 20 at the International Islamic University here killed seven people.

On Oct 22, Brigadier Moinuddin Ahmed, who was the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, was gunned down in Islamabad along with another soldier.

A day later, 25 people were killed and 27 injured in a series of blasts across Pakistan. Eighteen people died in a landmine explosion in Mohmand Agency while seven were killed when a suicide bomber struck at an air force base in Attock district. Eight people were injured in the Peshawar bombing.