| Volunteers remove a victim from the rear of an ambulance in Karachi on Thursday after an attack on a minibus by unidentified gunmen. (AFP)
Islamabad, Sept. 13 (Reuters): At least 15 Pakistani soldiers were killed today in a suicide bombing at an army building near Islamabad, the military said, the second major attack on the army this month.
The blast occurred in the canteen of the building used by the army’s elite Special Services Group (SSG) in the town of Tarbela Ghazi, around 70 km northwest of Islamabad.
President Pervez Musharraf, who is also the army chief, served in the SSG.
The victims belonged to the army’s Karar commando group, which has participated in operations against Islamic militants in various parts of the country.
The group took part in the army raid against pro-Taliban militants in Islamabad’s Lal Masjid in July that left over 100 dead and triggered a spate of reprisal attacks against security forces, Geo TV channel reported. “It was a suicide attack. The bomber blew himself up in the canteen when the soldiers were dining,” a security official said on condition of anonymity.
Military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said 15 soldiers were killed and a government official said the toll could rise as several soldiers were critically wounded.
Tarbela is a large dam built on the Indus river. The SSG officers mess was located in a high security cantonment area where the security was stated to be tight. It is not yet clear how the bomber blew himself up in the midst of officers who were having their dinner.
The explosion apparently took place around 8 pm IST just as the mess was full of personnel having their dinner after the evening prayers.
Earlier this month, 25 people, most of them staff members of an army intelligence agency, were killed in twin suicide attacks in Rawalpindi.
Officials said evidence pointed to the involvement of al Qaida-linked militants who are battling security forces in the tribal region near the Afghan border in those attacks.
Pakistan has seen a wave of bomb and suicide attacks since an army assault in July on Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, known for its links with the Taliban militants.
More than 250 people, most of them members of security forces and police, have been killed in these attacks.
Six persons were killed and at least 10 injured, most of them students, Karachi after two unidentified gunmen opened fire ona mini bus today.
Police chief Azhar Farooqi said five of the dead were students who had boarded the bus from Karachi University while one was the bus driver.