By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent
A bomb blast near the FIA building in Model Town Lahore on March 8th 2010 shook the entire city. â€œEleven people have been killed and several others injured in the suicide car bombing. The target was the FIA building and the Special Intelligence Agency which also had a building in the vicinity.
Reports state that 14 people were killed in this blast and 61 are injured and out of those 29 are in critical condition. Out of those 9 were policemen and the rest were women and children. Seven of the constables killed in the explosion were identified, their names are: Naveed, Habib Ullah, Arif, Manzar Alam, Abdul Aziz, Muhammad Afzal and Aziz Ahmed. The bodies were later shifted to the city morgue.
The DCO of Lahore and the Inspector General of Punjab, Tariq Azeem both confirmed that an explosive laden vehicle rammed into the Investigation Agencyâ€™s building.
Around 600 kilograms of explosives were used in this attack. The police said that the massive explosion has managed to create an 8 foot deep crater. The bomb even killed a woman who lived 300 meters away from where the bomb originally exploded. Many buildings, including houses, were damaged and a considerable number of cars were also damaged and destroyed because of the blast. Security has been placed on high alert across the entire city.
Witnesses say that they saw two people step out of the van which means the suicide bomber had accomplices.However, a case under Sections 302 and 324 of the PPC, 7 of ATA and 3/4 of Explosives Act was registered against the unknown suicide bomber and â€œhis two accomplicesâ€ on the complaint of an assistant director of the SIA.
Witnesses have told the media that the FIA building completely collapse people were buried under it. Khusro Pervez, the top administration official in Lahore said on Monday, â€œI fear the death toll may rise. We believe there are still people trapped under the rubble.â€
This statement came out to be true since on Monday the death toll was 11 and by the next day I had risen to 14; if there are anymore bodies under the ruble that is still to be discovered.
â€œThe blast also severely damaged a nearby religious school and houses. All schools have been closed in the area in order to avoid further losses or to prevent the possibility of another attack,â€ said Mr. Parvez Rathore who is Lahore City Police Chief.
Police said 30 to 50 people were in the building, used by police and intelligence agents, at the time of attack.
Interior Minister Mr. Rahman Malik stated while talking to the media that people who are carrying out these acts are not Muslim and these people are agents from outside who are committed these crimes. He also added that Muslims cannot kill other innocent Muslims so brutally. Mr. Malik also added that in his opinion the target was the Special Investigation Agency and not the FIA building.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took responsibility for these acts soon after the fact, â€œWe claim responsibility for the Lahore blast. We will continue such attacks in future,â€ Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq told AFP reporters in telephone calls from an undisclosed location.
â€œThe attack was to avenge (US) drone attacks and (Pakistani) military operations in the tribal areas. We will carry on such attacks as long as drone strikes and operations continue.â€
The concern by the public that has been raised in the past has become a more prominent voice in the wake of Mondayâ€™s attack. This concern is that official government and police institutions in the middle of a residential area are a bad idea.
The public of Lahore are too familiar with this drill, where there is a police building or some kind of army, police or intelligence building suicide bombers are sure to follow. As much as this situation saddens the public just as much they hope to be far away form it. The residents of Model Town claim that they had brought this issue to the notice of the government because they knew this was a disaster waiting to happen-which it actually was.
We are left to wonder whether this is going to start a string of attacks as the attackers claimed that this was one of the many attacks that they plan on carrying out against the government. If this is a first of many the question now is what is the government going to do to protect the public now? As we speak the drone attacks in the northern area keep killing more people. It is obvious that there is no negotiating or stopping of the war against terror and war against Al-Qaida.
This question of how the public of Pakistan should be protected is on the minds of every body who is living and beathing in this country even if they didnâ€™t feel the physical shock this attack. Even though they havenâ€™t felt this one many people in Pakistan have heard other bomb blast from close up, many have lost someone they loved or knew in these attacks, many of them are not with us today to ask the same question we are asking-how will our leaders protect us now.