Bomb Attack on Pakistan Gas Station Kills 20

A massive bomb blast by suspected Islamic militants at a gas station in Pakistan's central Punjab province Tuesday killed at least 20 people and wounded 127 others, senior officials said.

"Now the death toll is 20. We have 127 wounded," city administration official Naseem Sadiq told Agence France Presse by telephone.

Regional police chief Aftab Cheema confirmed the attack in Faisalabad city, the country's textile-making capital.

"It was a car bomb blast. The explosive was planted in a car. We are investigating whether a suicide bomber was involved or not," Cheema said.

Television pictures showed the station had been reduced to a pile of bricks and gnarled metal as rescue officials worked to remove rubble from the scene to search for survivors and ambulance vehicles ferried the injured away.

City commissioner Tahir Husain told private Geo television that no suicide attacker was involved.

"It was not a suicide attack. It was a planted bomb blast. The bomb exploded near the gas cylinders that triggered a bigger blast," he said.

Husain said that the attack could have targeted government buildings close to the gas station site, some of which he said were damaged in the blast.

Pakistan has been wracked by violence, mostly targeting security officials.

Some 4,000 people have been killed in bomb blasts, suicide and gun attacks blamed on Taliban and al-Qaida fighters since Pakistan troops stormed a militant mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

On Saturday at least one person was killed and another wounded when a bomb exploded inside a house in Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi.

Faisalabad city is near the home of a Christian government minister who was buried Friday after being killed in a hail of bullets in Islamabad last week over his opposition to the country's strict Islamic blasphemy laws.

His assassination sparked international outrage and stoked concern about rampant militancy and rising extremism throughout the nuclear-armed nation, a fractious ally in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Source: Agence France Presse

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