Two suicide bombings targeting the Pakistani military killed at least 49 people in Lahore on Friday, officials said, in a challenge to government assertions that crackdowns have weakened Taliban insurgents.
A third bomb exploded near a police station in Lahore later on Friday, police said, wounding up to four people and further rattling nerves in the eastern city near the border with India. Two other blasts were heard minutes later.
Militants have renewed pressure on the U.S.-backed Pakistani government, with five bomb attacks this week alone
"Two suicide bombers attacked within the span of 15 to 20 seconds and they were on foot," provincial police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar told reporters earlier.
One of the bombs went off in a military neighborhood and a military vehicle was targeted, military officials said. The second bomb hit military vehicles which arrived at the scene.
Those killed in the attack, the bloodiest this year, in a military neighborhood of the city near the border with India included nine soldiers, military officials said. Almost 100 people were wounded.
Pakistani authorities have said security crackdowns have weakened al-Qaeda-linked Taliban militants fighting to topple the U.S.-backed government.
Rescue workers and paramedics rushed to the R A Bazaar, a densely populated area of the city of eight million often considered Pakistan's cultural capital.
The area was crowded as a small blast and a larger explosion occurred shortly before the main Friday prayers were to start, sparking fears the death toll could rise.
We have the heads of both the bombers. There was an interval of 15 seconds between the two attacks. They were on foot. Their target was army vehicles
senior police officer Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq
More than 3,000 killed since 2007
Television footage showed casualties being bundled into ambulances and armed soldiers standing guard along a main road, lined with trees and where witnesses said there were shops and a mosque.
"We have the heads of both the bombers. There was an interval of 15 seconds between the two attacks. They were on foot. Their target was army vehicles," senior police officer Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq told reporters at the site.
On Monday, a suicide car bomber destroyed offices used to interrogate suspected militants in Lahore, killing 15 people in an attack claimed by Pakistan's mainstream Taliban faction.
That attack underscored the chronic insecurity in nuclear-armed Pakistan, an ally in the U.S.-led war on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, despite a recent lull in violence.
A wave of suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan has killed more than 3,000 people since 2007. Blame has fallen on Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants bitterly opposed to the alliance with the United States.
Pakistan's military claims to have made big gains against Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds over the past year, following major offensives in the northwestern district of Swat and the tribal region of South Waziristan.
So far this year, there has been a decline in violence by Islamist militants in Pakistan after a significant increase in bloodshed in late 2009.
Officials have linked the reduction to the suspected death -- still not confirmed -- of TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud and military offensives that have disrupted militant networks.