Suicide attack on Pakistani police kills 22

LAHORE, Pakistan – A suicide bomb attack killed at least 22 people, most of them policemen, in Pakistan on Thursday, deepening a sense of insecurity weeks before an election that could weaken President Pervez Musharraf’s grip on power.

The suicide bomber walked up to policemen stationed outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore and blew himself up.

“Most of the victims are policemen. It was a suicide attack,” said senior city government official Mian Ejaz. He said 60 people had been wounded.

Pakistan has seen a wave of bomb attacks in recent months, many of them suicide attacks on members of the security forces, but there had been none in Lahore, capital of Punjab province.

City police chief Malik Mohammad Iqbal told Geo Television that all but one of the victims were policemen, who had gathered outside the court ahead of a protest rally by lawyers. Police constable Jameel Ahmed said the attacker was a man aged about 25 who had arrived outside the court on a motorbike.

“He parked his bike and walked to the police and blew himself up,” Ahmed said.

Television pictures showed wounded policemen being hauled onto stretchers and taken away by ambulance. Police caps, boots and riot shields littered the road. Hundreds of people have been killed in suicide blasts in recent months.

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack as she left an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi on December 27.

More than 20 bystanders were killed in that attack, which led to the postponement of a January 8 general election meant to complete a transition to civilian rule in the nuclear-armed U.S. ally.