FAISALABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Militants set off a car-bomb at a natural gas filling station in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad Tuesday killing 25 people, many of them lining up for fuel for their cars, police said.
The car-bomb set off gas cylinders causing a big explosion that destroyed or severely damaged nearby buildings and reduced numerous vehicles to blackened shells. A Taliban spokesman later claimed responsibility.
“Many of those killed were people waiting to get their cars filled,” district police chief Aftab Cheema told Reuters.
More than 125 people were wounded in the blast in Pakistan’s textile-producing hub, 280 km (175 miles) southeast of the capital, Islamabad, he said.
Many vehicles in Pakistan run on compressed natural gas and there are usually long queues of cars waiting to fill up at stations.
Cheema declined to speculate on the militants’ target but said a “sensitive organization” had an office close to the filling station.
Media said the country’s main police investigation agency had an office nearby.
A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility, telling Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location the attack was in retaliation for the killing of one of their commanders in the city.
He was referring to the killing of a senior Pakistani Taliban member in a shoot-out with police in Faisalabad last year.
Pakistan has seen a wave of bombs in the past three years, many in the northwest near the border with Afghanistan, where the military is battling al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban insurgents.
The army says that several military offensives have weakened the militants but bomb attacks are still common.
Reporting by Augustine Anthony; Additional reporting by Faisal Aziz and Saud Mehsud; Editing by Robert Birsel and Yoko Nishikawa