Pakistan Bombing Kills 25 Near Home Of Murdered Minister

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Worthy News Asia Service

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- Some 25 people were killed and over 100 others wounded in a car bombing in Pakistan's Punjab province near the home of Christian government minister Shabaz Bhatti, who was assassinated last week, police officials said Tuesday, March 8.

News reports said the militant Taliban group in Pakistan claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack at a gas station in the eastern city of Faisalabad, the country's textile-making hub, and home to commercial, police and government buildings.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement that the target was a nearby office of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the main intelligence agency.

Regional police chief Aftab Cheema said no suicide bomber was involved the blast. "It was a car bomb blast. The explosive was planted in a car," Cheema explained.


Witnesses said the explosives-laden vehicle was parked at a filling station that provided compressed natural gas for vehicles.

Television footage showed the station had been reduced to a pile of bricks and gnarled metal. Rescue officials were seen working to remove rubble from the scene to search for survivors and ambulance vehicles ferried the injured away.

Reporters said that a building of the national airline, Pakistan International Airlines, was also severely damaged.

The attack came just days after Minister of Minority Affairs Bhatti, the only Christian in Pakistan's cabinet, was buried Friday, March 4, in his native nearby village of Khuspur in Faisalabad, shortly after he was shot and killed by suspected Islamic militants.

In leaflets at the scene in the capital Islamabad, terror groups al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban Movement in Punjab province claimed responsibility for the murder.


They blamed the government for putting Bhatti, an "infidel Christian," in charge of an unspecified committee, apparently in reference to his campaign against controversial blasphemy laws.

He was also condemned for trying to save the life of a Christian mother of four, Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death last year under the legislation.

Tuesday's bombings and Bhatti's assassination added to concerns among minority Christians about rampant militancy and rising extremism throughout the nuclear-armed nation, viewed as a fractious ally in the US-led war in nearby Afghanistan.

The American embassy in Islamabad condemned the blast. "This atrocity is the latest in a series of targeted murders and indiscriminate terrorist attacks against innocent Pakistani children, women and men," it said in a statement. "The United States will continue to work with the people and government of Pakistan to combat violent extremism and to build a peaceful and secure future for its citizens."