Suicide Explosions Strike Lahore, Pakistan

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Suicide bombers targeted the Pakistani military in Lahore Friday. It was the fourth major attack in Pakistan this week, indicating Islamist militants are stepping up violence after a period of relative calm.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Pakistan today was shaken by yet another suicide attack, this time in the city of Lahore. Authorities say twin explosions in an area housing military staff left 39 dead and nearly 100 wounded. From Islamabad, NPR's Julie McCarthy has more.

JULIE MCCARTHY: Military sources say appears that two suicide bombers struck a security detail on routine patrol, detonating their explosives just 15 seconds apart. The blast in the Royal Artillery Bazaar, in Lahore's cantonment area, is a sensitive spot that is normally heavily guarded. Despite security arrangements, the attackers managed a two-prong assault shortly before Friday prayers, when police say the streets would've been crowded with worshippers heading to a nearby mosque.

The surrounding residential area houses both army and civilians. Helicopters hovered over the scene of the explosions while ambulances ferried the large number of dead and wounded from the site. Television images showed smoke bellowing from the blasts and people fleeing in panic.

Today's attack was the second deadly strike in five days in Lahore. On Monday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a massive suicide bombing that destroyed a provincial office of the Special Investigation Agency and killed at least a dozen people.

The military installations in Lahore and offices there housing the country's intelligence agency, the ISA, have come under increasing attack. This week's carnage shattered what had been a lull in violence in Pakistan's major cities. The army has racked up a series of successful offensives against the militant strongholds in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Today's attack in Lahore is yet another reminder that the militants may be on the run but they are far from being defeated.

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.

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