26 killed, 37 injured as gunmen attack Pakistan's garrison city

19:36, December 04, 2009      

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Pakistani army said Friday that over 60 casualties are feared in the explosions and gunfire close to the army headquarters in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi near the capital of Islamabad.

Pakistan's chief army spokesman Athar Abbas said that 26 people were killed and another 37 were injured in the suicide blasts and firing close to a mosque in Rawalpindi right after the Friday prayer.

Abbas said at least six to seven gunmen armed with grenades and heavy weapons entered into the Parade Line mosque located near Qasim market. He said the attackers threw hand grenades initially followed by indiscriminate firing.

He said the security forces officials opened retaliatory fire, killing at least four of the militants and arresting another three. He said several of the attackers were suicide bombers.

The attack site has been put on high alert after the blasts as the security forces cordoned off the roads leading toward the mosque and helicopters are hovering over the affected area.

Witnesses said the mosque was partially damaged and some vehicles parking nearby were destroyed. The injured have been shifted hospitals.

They said when the incident happened a large number of people were present in the mosque, a sensitive military area minutes' walk away from Pakistan's army general headquarters.

The violence came two days after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a move Pakistani officials fear will push militants across the border from Afghanistan and complicate the army's battle against the Taliban.

The Pakistani security forces have been targeted in a series of recent attacks. In October, a raid on an army base in Rawalpindi prompted a 22-hour standoff and left 19 people dead. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Source: Xinhua
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