Suicide bomber hits Lahore police building

A suicide car bomber has struck a building where police interrogate high-value suspects in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, killing at least 11 people, officials said.

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LAHORE // A suicide car bomber struck a building where police interrogate high-value suspects in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore today, killing at least 11 people and wounding 61 more including women taking children to school, officials said. The attack broke what had been a relative lull in major violence in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country reviled by some militant groups for its alliance with the US. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Pakistani Taliban and allied militant groups. The explosion went off outside a Punjab province police building, police official Zulfikar Hameed said.

TV footage showed a huge crater in the ground where the blast seemed to have originated. It appeared the suicide bomber rammed a car packed with as much as 600 kilogrammes of explosives into the building's perimeter wall, officials said. "This place was used to interrogate important suspects, but presently there was none such suspect, but more then 40 staff were manning the place," the Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore said. Noorul Huda, a student at a nearby religious school, was in his first class when the blast shook the area, he told TV reporters. "With the huge bang, blocks and pieces of the roof fell upon us and six of us were wounded," said the young man, who suffered a head injury that was covered by a bloodstained cloth. "It was total chaos outside and people were running and crying for help."

Pakistanis in the neighborhood had filed complaints urging authorities to move the unmarked interrogation facility out of the residential area so the street wouldn't become a target for an attack, said Mohammad Musharraf, who lives nearby. "My whole house was shaken and I thought it was an earthquake," he said. "A window dislodged and fell on my son, fracturing his arm." The Lahore government official Khusro Pervez said 11 people had died and several of the 61 people wounded were in a critical condition. The hospital official Jawed Akram said the dead included at least one woman and a young girl, apparently part of a group heading to a school.

The interior minister Rehman Malik painted the attack as sign of desperation from militants whose "backs have been broken" by the army. * AP