More than 30 people have been killed and dozens injured in a coordinated attack at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, military officials say. Reports suggest there were at least two suicide attacks during Friday prayers followed by a series of explosions. Marco Werman speaks with Saeed Minhas of the State-run PTV News television in Islamabad.
MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. Militants in Pakistan today attacked a mosque in the city of Rawalpindi. Officials say at least 35 people were killed, including some senior military officers and soldiers. The mosque is near the Pakistani military's headquarters in the city. Militants sprayed worshippers with gunfire, threw grenades, and finally blew themselves up. Saeed Minhas is the head of news at the State-run PTV News television in Islamabad. He says the victims of today's attack also include children.
SAEED MINHAS: Amongst the dead are 17 kids, who mostly belong to the army officers, and amongst the dead are also one of the director general of armored corps of Pakistan Army. And then there are some brigadiers, lieutenant colonels and other army officers. There are civilians also involved in this. Army has organized some giant investigative teams, along with the civil administration and they are trying to probe how this breach took place, how come these four people managed to come into a highly secured and sensitive area and did that great damage to their morale and also to the area.
WERMAN: Now before actually getting into the mosque and spraying gunfire everywhere, the attackers blew up a military checkpoint. When people open fire on worshippers inside a mosque, they're obviously not trying to gain public sympathy. What is the message these attackers were sending today by attacking this house of worship?
MINHAS: Well, these militants are losing ground and losing whatever little sympathy they had amongst the people by doing these kinds of acts, because the religious leaders are condemning this attack on the mosque. And especially in the last two months, we have seen more and more attacks on the civilians, which is creating more hatred for these militant organizations in the urban centers. Again, I'll emphasize, in the urban centers, because in the urban center, there was a mixed response that the government might not be dealing them properly and these kind of things. But with these kind of attacks, the urban centers are united behind Pakistan Army to take on these militants and flush them out from there. But then comes the question, when these militants will go out from there, where will they go?
WERMAN: Right. And so the public in this urban area of Rawalpindi is firmly behind the military, or are they just firmly against these attackers?
MINHAS: Both these things. They are firmly against these militants, because of these brutal acts, and Pakistan Army is certainly getting more and more support from the urban centers. It's a mixture of both the things.
WERMAN: Journalist Saeed Minhas in Islamabad, thank you very much for your time, sir.