Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD:A suicide bomber blew himself up at the main airport in the Pakistan capital late on Tuesday, killing himself and causing injuries to three policemen. The airport is located in Rawalpindi, the capital's twin city.

A country-wide red alert was sounded, and a search and checking of passengers, baggage, lounges and bathrooms was under way at all the major airports, including Lahore and Karachi.

According to the police, the bomber was in a car that was trying to enter the VIP parking lot. When security personnel stopped the car for a security check, a man got off the vehicle and made a dash for the VIP lounge.

Police said there was an exchange of fire between him and security personnel, at which the bomber detonated himself.

This is the second suicide bombing in the Pakistan capital, and the sixth in the country in 10 days. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the Marriott Hotel on January 26, killing a hotel guard, hours before the Indian High Commission hosted a Republic Day reception there.

A spate of suicide bombings since then, all in the North-West Frontier Province, has claimed more than 20 lives.

Checkpoints came up all over the capital immediately after the suicide bombing at the airport, with police stopping vehicles for random checks.