RAHIM YAR KHAN: Eighteen people died and more than 30 others were injured when an explosion ripped through a Chehlum procession in Khanpur, 46km from here, on Sunday.
Rescue personnel who took the injured and the bodies to hospitals put the death toll at 18, but the district administration said the confirmed toll was 14.
According to police, the blast took place when people were leaving Darbar-i-Hussainia on Shahi Road near the city police station to join the procession.
The Regional Police Officer for Bahawalpur, Mohammad Abid Qadri, claimed initially that an electric transformer had exploded, but no transformer was found on nearby poles. An electricity pole, however, fell after the blast and it was feared that a remote-control bomb might have been planted there.
A Khanpur-based journalist said a head and a leg found at the site of the blast suggested that it could be a suicide attack.
The injured were taken to tehsil headquarters hospital in Khanpur. More than 20 seriously injured people were later shifted to Sheikh Zayed Medical College Hospital in Rahim Yar Khan.
Rescue 1122 personnel from Rahim Yar Khan reached Khanpur an hour after the blast to support the local administration.
District Coordination Officer Dr Ahmed Javed Qazi and District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chattha reached the place and the DPO said the evidence suggested that it was a bomb attack and not a transformer accident.
After the blast, angry mourners ransacked some shops and damaged police vehicles and offices of the DPO, SDPO and the city police station.
Rangers were called in to help the local administration and police to control the situation and a senior official of Cholistan Rangers told this correspondent that order was soon restored.
The DCO said that since the bomb disposal squad could not reach everywhere it was the duty of police and its special branch to ensure security. He said the Rangers had to be called in because the local administration could not keep such a large number of people under control.
He said people’s reaction after such a serious incident was quite natural. They turned aggressive and attacked the police station, shops and vehicles.
According to our Bahawalpur correspondent, five children and their mother were among the dead.