Two Suicide Blasts Hit Lahore; Warning to Incoming Government?

Terrorists have struck Lahore again in two separate attacks, killing at least 23 individuals. The first attack hit the local office of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), a civilian law enforcement agency under the Ministry of Interior that does extensive counterterrorism work. The blast was perhaps a warning message to the incoming civilian government. The blast shattered the windows of the eight foot building and damaged a gas pipeline nearby.

The second occurred near an office building in the posh Model Town area. The victims include a woman and three children. A GEO News correspondent reports that behind the office building is the home of an army officer, a possible target. Another GEO News correspondent claims the blast occurred near the local home of People’s Party Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and Lahore Mayor Amir Mahmood.  

Today’s attacks are the latest sign that Lahore is increasingly on the terrorists’ radar. Lahore has witnessed far less violence than other cities, including Karachi and Peshawar, in recent years. However, the ratio is now reversing this year. A suicide bomber targeted police at a lawyers’ movement rally on Janaury 10. And last week, militants attacked the city’s Naval College. Militants would like to demonstrate the reach of their network and that they can hit the so-called Punjabi establishment at home.

An angry crowd of protesters amassed near the FIA building, protesting against Pervez Musharraf as well as the terrorists.

Lahore’s hospitals are requesting donations of blood.

UPDATE: 2:07PM (New York) – There are indications both attacks were focused on the FIA.  There are rumors that the  local FIA office was visited frequently by foreign intelligence agencies.  A report on Aaj Television claims that the second attack could have been intended for an intelligence agency safe house nearby where suspected terrorists were being held.  This would indicate inside cooperation.  Also, both locations housed American-trained FIA units investigating the Naval College blast.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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