Blasts At Pakistan Navy College Kill At Least 4

March 5th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Blasts At Pakistan Navy College Kill At Least 4

Washington Post
March 5, 2008
Pg. 17
Lahore Targeted on Fifth Day of Attacks
By Candace Rondeaux, Washington Post Foreign Service
LAHORE, Pakistan, March 4 -- Two powerful suicide bombings at Pakistan's Navy War College killed at least four people and injured 16 Tuesday on the fifth consecutive day of major attacks by pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan.
The early afternoon assault in the heart of the country's cultural capital was the second in a week against a prominent military target in Pakistan and marked a significant setback for the beleaguered government of President Pervez Musharraf, which had pledged to improve security.
The attack sparked panic across Lahore, which until recently has remained relatively insulated from the violence roiling the rest of the country.
The first blast occurred when a man wearing a vest packed with explosives walked up to the main gate of the navy college. "Our security men saw the bomber, but he blew himself up as soon as he was stopped at the gate," said Capt. Akbar Naqi, a spokesman for the Pakistani navy.
A second man approached the gate on a motorcycle moments later and detonated his bomb in the parking lot. The impact of that blast set off a chain reaction of explosions as several vehicles fueled by natural gas went up in a wall of flames.
Mohammed Safder, 23, a driver for a Pakistani air force officer, said he had just stopped for a bite at the college cafeteria and was waiting for his boss when he heard the first blast. When he went outside, he saw dozens of people scattered in the parking lot crying for help. Seconds later, the other bomb went off.
"I've never been so scared in my life. People were running and screaming and there were body parts everywhere," Safder said.
Pakistani officials gave conflicting accounts of the number of casualties, but military officials said that at least four people were killed and 16 injured. Ambulances rushed the wounded and the bodies of the dead to two local military hospitals.
Within hours of the blasts, a state of emergency was briefly declared at four hospitals as medical workers braced for the possibility of more casualties. Local authorities immediately ordered the closure of educational institutions across the city.
Army, navy and police personnel cordoned off the area around the block-long campus of the military college, where hundreds of Pakistani navy officers and officers from several other countries, including China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are trained.
The college is less than a mile from the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and close to several other elite educational institutions. The area surrounding the college is home to several residences for high-ranking military and political officials.
Sidra Mahmood, a student at a nearby college, said she and two friends were in class when they heard the first explosion. When she heard the second explosion, she fled the classroom. "It shook the entire building, so that's when we ran out," said Mahmood, 23. "Girls were panicked and calling home, checking to see if everything was okay."
Attacks by pro-Taliban extremists have been on the rise since January, with the violence intensifying sharply as voters went to the polls in national parliamentary elections Feb. 18. More than 180 people have been killed and scores injured in eight bombings and other attacks within the past month.
In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 19 people during an anti-government protest by lawyers outside the Lahore High Court, a few blocks from the college. And last week, Pakistan's army surgeon general and seven other people were killed in a suicide bombing in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Special correspondents Imtiaz Ali in Peshawar and Shahzad Khurram in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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