Pakistan's woes continue as suicide bomber kills 24

( dpa ) - A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of policemen at an anti-government rally Thursday in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 21 officers and three civilians in the latest violence to rock a nation teetering on the brink.

The death toll could rise, however, because at least 65 people were wounded in the attack, including 16 policemen who were in critical condition at three Lahore hospitals.

The bomber, wearing a belt packed with 14 kilograms of explosives and four kilograms of ball bearings and other material that could harm people, walked to a barricade outside the High Court building at 11:45 am (0645 GMT) where dozens of riot police had gathered ahead of a scheduled rally by local lawyers, said Aftab Ahmed Cheema, senior superintendent of police in Lahore.

"As he approached, a police constable stopped him and he blew himself up," said Cheema, who said the bomber looked no more than 18- years-old.

The legs of the bombers were found at the spot while his head was found around 200 feet from the scene of the blast.

Video footage showed police caps, shoes, riot shields, helmets and batons lying in the street amid pools of blood, damaged vehicles and a dead horse that had been connected to a carriage likely passing by when the bomber struck.

The attack is yet another blow to stability in Pakistan, which is still reeling from the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto two weeks ago in a gun and suicide bomb attack in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

Tensions were already running high because of Bhutto's death, which forced the postponement of crucial parliamentary elections until February 18.

The nuclear-armed country, already beset by a 10-month political crisis, suffered at least 56 suicide bombings in 2007 that killed 741 people, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Embattled President Pervez Musharraf has blamed Taliban and al- Qaeda militants hiding in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal areas along its rugged mountainous border with Afghanistan for launching the bombing campaign to destabilize his government.

The suicide attacks have mainly targeted military and police forces in the volatile North-West Frontier Province, which includes the tribal areas, where around 100,000 troops have been deployed to go after Islamic extremists.

But suicide bombings have also occurred in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, the southern port city of Karachi, killing hundreds of civilians, and now in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.

There is growing skepticism of the government's claims that Islamic militants killed Bhutto, as Musharraf's popularity as is at its lowest since he, as army chief, seized power in a coup in 1999.

Bhutto's supporters have accused rogue elements within Musharraf's government or security services of killing Bhutto and are demanding an independent United Nations inquiry.

There were even rumours circulating following Thursday's attack that the bomber was actually targeting the anti-government lawyers, who have held regular demonstrations to protest Musharraf's sacking of dozens of Supreme Court and High Court judges last November. The lawyers were still inside the High Court building when the bomber struck and were unharmed.

"All these rumours are floating because people don't trust the government," said Talot Masood, a retired army general and military analyst. "The government is fast losing control over events."

The Bush administration, Musharraf's chief foreign backer, is alarmed that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are regrouping in and even expanding outside the tribal areas, and are pushing for a return to civilian leadership via free elections to restore credibility to the government. It was not the first time that a suicide bomber so brazenly targeted police in a major Pakistani city.

Days after a commando operation against Islamic militants holed up inside Islamabad's Red Mosque in July 2007, a bomber walked up to a group of policemen eating lunch at a small roadside restaurant and blew himself up, killing eight of them as well as seven civilians.

The country's Jihadi (holy warriors) organizations had warned the government that it would face a series of suicide attacks across the country if it stormed the Red Mosque. More than five hundred people, more than half of them the security personnel, have died in the terrorist actions since then.

Kazakhstan's biggest oil transporting company eyes buying locally-made equipment
Kazakhstan's biggest oil transporting company eyes buying locally-made equipment
Kazakhstan’s oil & gas company opens tender to buy pumps
Kazakhstan’s oil & gas company opens tender to buy pumps
Passenger trains operating to Kazakhstan’s Atyrau to be suspended over coronavirus fears
Passenger trains operating to Kazakhstan’s Atyrau to be suspended over coronavirus fears
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakhstan's biggest oil transporting company eyes buying locally-made equipment
Volume of cargo transshipment via Turkish Port of Mersin disclosed
Coronavirus cases increase in Georgia
Turkey’s state water administration opens tender to rent vehicles
Azerbaijan extends benefit terms for contributions to mandatory health insurance for non-oil sector employees
Iran talks production of equipment in its oil sector
Turkey's municipality attracts foreign insurers via tender
Turkish university opens tender to attract foreign IT companies
Turkmen company masters production of nonwoven fabric
Azerbaijan extends terms for use of mandatory health insurance
Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights condemns so-called "parliamentary and presidential elections" in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh
SOCAR: No restrictions on fuel sale in Azerbaijan
Weekly review of Azerbaijan's precious metals market
Turkey discloses cargo transshipment via Port of Zonguldak
South Korea to pay families hundreds of dollars to ease coronavirus impact
Iran's exports to African countries announced
Export volume of startup companies via Iran's Markazi Province announced
Iran announces its copper exports
Uzbekistan's total external debt increases
Georgia bans movement of buses in self-governing cities and administrative regions
Turkey discloses cargo transshipment via Port of Samsun in January-February 2020
Analyst: Forecast for oil prices depends on coronavirus spread
Azerbaijan Insurers Association: insurance community must promptly prepare plan for transition to distant operation mode
Kazakhstan’s oil & gas company opens tender to buy pumps
Scientific sphere switches to digital mode in Turkmenistan
Passenger trains operating to Kazakhstan’s Atyrau to be suspended over coronavirus fears
Charter flight to bring Georgian citizen from Bulgaria
Next plenary meeting of spring session of Azerbaijani Parliament kicks off
Iran's exports through Golestan customs announced
Review of oil, gas operations in Azerbaijan in January-February 2020
Foreign investments in Iran's Fars province increase
Uzbekneftegaz contunues to increase gas production of Uzbekistan
Georgia increases import of wood, furniture from Turkey
Fatal work accident occurs along Balkan Stream route
COVID-19 cases reach 97 in Georgia
Turkmen state concern announces tender to purchase material and technical resources
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
No direct financial loss suffered from postponing of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
US allocates funds to Georgia amid COVID-19 pandemic
Iranian currency rates for March 30
Georgia confirms new case of coronavirus
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine
Tender to purchase material and technical resources opens in Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan sees increase in coronavirus cases
Iran's chemical, petrochemical industry increases production
More coronavirus cases detected in Kazakhstan
Production not to stop in Iran amid Coronavirus
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 24 times
MP: Massive donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus shows national solidarity
Number of coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 57,298
Iranian government pays loan to damaged businesses
China unexpectedly cuts reverse repo rate by most in five years to support virus-hit economy
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Israeli PM Netanyahu’s aide tests positive for coronavirus
South Korea coronavirus cases rise steadily, more financial aid expected
Trump extends national social distancing guidelines to April 30
Vietnam PM asks major cities to prepare for lockdown to stop virus
Trudeau continues self-isolating after his wife's recovery from COVID-19
5.1-magnitude quake hits Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Egypt condemns Yemeni Houthis' missile attacks on Saudi cities
France reports 2,599 new coronavirus cases, 292 additional deaths
Turkey's COVID-19 cases rise to 9,217, death toll hits 131
All Moscow’s residents to stay in home self-isolation from Monday
Somali army kills 142 al-Shabab militants during operation
Syria reports 1st death case of COVID-19
Coronavirus deaths fall again in Italy
EIA decreases previously forecast oil extraction volume in Kazakhstan for 2020
Brunei reports 6 new cases of COVID-19, 126 in total
Nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in UK
Saudi Arabia expands lockdown as coronavirus death toll doubles
Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises by 838 overnight to 6,528
Saudi intercepts missiles in attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthis
Herbal medicine being tested for treatment of coronavirus in Iran
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Permanent representative: PACE leadership must change approach periodically demonstrated in relation to Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's Atyrau to close for quarantine to battle coronavirus spread
Enterprises in Iran's industrial parks restore production
Azerbaijan confirms 27 more coronavirus cases
Expert: Impact of global shocks on Azerbaijan's economy and society is minimal
Azerbaijan's Central Bank attracts funds
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from France through its ports
Azerbaijan extends deadlines for paying taxes and filing declarations
Production of some Iranian industrial products decreases
Azerbaijani company to increase disinfectant production
Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mines & Trade announces volume of foreign investments
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Tekirdag announced
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Morocco through its ports
Management Union of Medical Territorial Units: Epidemiological situation in Azerbaijan under control
Total amount of donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus disclosed
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Ukraine through its ports
Iran reveals volume of investments in employment loans
Coronavirus confirmed in one more Kazakh city
Support to Exports Guarantee Fund of Iran to continue
Exports via Bilasuvar customs of Iran increase
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Hopa announced
Value of new projects in Iran's mining and industrial sector announced
Spread of coronavirus decreases in some provinces of Iran
Azerbaijani parliament holds first videoconference
Five Kazakh cities to be quarantined off over coronavirus spread
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Eregli announced
All news