The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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13 die in bombing before judge rally

Islamabad, July 17 (PTI): Thirteen people were killed and 45 were injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) enclosure in Islamabad just before suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was supposed to address a lawyers’ meeting.

The chief commissioner of police, Islamabad, Khalid Pervez, said the suicide attack took place 100 metres from a stage that had been set up in a car park in a market area outside the court. Chaudhry had not arrived to speak to lawyers at the time of the blast, witnesses said.

A number of parties had set up their booths outside the meeting venue to welcome Chaudhry. Pervez said the attack left 13 dead and 45 wounded. “Definitely it was a suicide attack. Had it been an ordinary bomb blast there would have been a crater but there was no crater,” he added.

The blast went off about 30 metres from a stage that had been set up in the car park

“I saw body parts and limbs scattered all over the place,” said lawyer Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed. The former chief justice was immediately driven to the supreme court complex for his safety.

The bomber, whose severed head was found close to the site of the explosion at the busy F-8 area of the city, had planned to cause maximum damage at the PPP enclosure. Witnesses told Geo TV that the suicide bomber pulled up on a motorcycle and blew himself up.

One lawyer with the chief justice said he believed the attack was part of the backlash against the Lal Masjid assault. He said it was aimed at the PPP because Bhutto had supported the military action against the militants in the mosque-school complex.

But another lawyer close to Chaudhry said he believed the chief justice had been targeted by state intelligence agencies. “It was a direct attack on the chief justice by the agencies. They wanted to get rid of him,” Munir A. Malik, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and a member of Chaudhry's legal team, said.

Bhutto had said the Lal Masjid operation should have been conducted much earlier. She also backed President Pervez Musharraf for carrying out the raid.

The meeting venue resembled a war zone with blood-splattered clothes, splinters and other debris strewn around and several bodies lying on the ground.

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