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Pakistan plagued with terrorism
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A suicide bomb blast occurred near the Lahore High Court in eastern Pakistan's Punjab province Thursday, leaving at least 22 dead and more than 50 others injured. It is the gravest suicide attack in the year 2008 in Pakistan, a country threatened by terrorism.



This photo shows the location of Lahore in Pakistan. A suicide bomb blast occurred near the Lahore High Court in eastern Pakistan's Punjab province Thursday, leaving at least 22 dead and more than 50 others injured.


The Lahore High Court Bar was holding a meeting and planning a protest rally on the High Court Square with heavy deployment of riot policemen on guard. A motorcyclist tried to enter the High Court building, but was stopped by police. Suddenly the motorcyclist blew himself up.


The rescue team rushed to the blast site and transferred the victims, most of them policemen, to local hospitals. The Mall Road, a main road of Lahore on which the High Court was located, was blocked after the attack.


Speaking to Xinhua, Muhammad Naceed, a policeman who was deployed near the Lahore High Court at the time of blast and survived, said, "We were on duty, then there was the blast and many people died. I saw human pieces flying up. After several minutes the ambulances came."


Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema confirmed that at least 20 people including five policemen died in the suicide blast. The police were targeted in the attack, Cheema said, adding that security has been put on high alert across the country after the attack.


Muzammal Hussain, a doctor of the ICU of Mayo hospital which received many injured people, told Xinhua that 25 people died and 62 others were injured.



Pakistani policemen walk amongst dead and injured colleagues at the site of a suicide attack in Lahore Jan.10, 2008.


President Pervez Musharraf and caretaker prime minister Mohammad mian Soomro strongly condemned the attack and ordered a thorough investigation. Musharraf vowed to continue fight against terrorism and extremism and not to be deterred by such acts.


This is a typical way a suicide attack story unfolds in Pakistan. As usual, no group claimed responsibility and terrorists and extremists are blamed for such attacks.


People in the capital of Islamabad on Thursday went out to the streets and cheered for hailstones, which were rare in the city. They turned a deaf ear to the sad news and no sign of grief appeared on their faces. A cab driver told Xinhua that he had got used to suicide attacks and reports of deaths in Pakistan.


The grief of people, who were broken-hearted about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister and chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), has still not healed when the blast occurred in Lahore.


Bhutto was killed in gunshots and suicide blast in the garrison city of Rawalpindi when she was going out of park where she addressed an election rally on Dec. 27. The death of Bhutto has brought terrorism under the spotlight in Pakistan.


Makhdoom Babar, president and editor-in-chief of a local newspaper Daily Mail, told Xinhua that people barely heard of any suicide attacks before Sept. 11 in 2001.


President Pervez Musharraf's choice to cooperate with the United States to fight terrorism drew fires from some critics and some militant groups in Pakistan.


Despite the government's pledge to uproot terrorism and extremism, terrorism and extremism are rooted deeply in the country.


Some PPP supporters told Xinhua on Jan. 5 that the pro-Taliban militants, who were accused of killing Bhutto, would never kill innocent Pakistani people. It is not unusual that common people have sympathy for pro-Taliban militants, who are alleged to impose Islamic laws in some regions, especially the northwestern areas.


Musharraf has repeatedly said that the threat of terrorism should be dealt with multi-faceted measures including force, economy and education.


There is no assurance that the tragedy in Lahore will not be repeated in the future, and it is likely that the fight against terrorism will be protracted.


Saima Sakhi, a human rights activist working for Punjab Aids Consortium, told Xinhua that the forthcoming general elections, which were slated for Feb. 18, were what counted in the country. "We hope the new government can bring the country back on the right track," she said.


(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2008)

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