80 rounded up in Lahore blast probe

Published July 8, 2013
Pakistani police officials check the site of bomb explosion on a food park in Lahore on July 6, 2013.—File Photo
Pakistani police officials check the site of bomb explosion on a food park in Lahore on July 6, 2013.—File Photo

LAHORE: As the death toll in Saturday's Old Anarkali bomb blast rose to five on Sunday, police took more than 80 suspects into custody for interrogation, but without any significant breakthrough in investigation.

However, a police official told Dawn that a group, calling itself Baloch Liberation Tigers, led by Meeran Baloch, had claimed responsibility for the attack in phone calls made to the Balochistan media and police.

The official said that the Punjab police had been informed about the claim by their Balochistan counterparts.

According to sources, seven senior members of banned groups were picked up for interrogation in connection with the blast.

Soon after the blast, policemen deployed on posts on various roads in the city began checking car and motorcycles and impounded several vehicles after their drivers failed to show registration books.

A device containing about 500g of explosives in a polythene bag placed beneath a deep freezer on the footpath in front of a food outlet in the busy Old Anarkali Food Street went off on Saturday night. A six-year-old girl was among the dead.

According to witnesses, dozens of families were dining at the peak hours when the blast shook the locality.

Of the 47 people injured in the attack, 11 were discharged from the Mayo, Sir Ganga Ram and Services hospitals after treatment.

Dozens of Afghans and Pakhtuns and food street workers were among those taken into custody during a search operation. Most of them were not carrying their identity documents. Police also quizzed residents about their guests.

Police intensified security around the City Railway Station, bus stands, Sunday bazaars and important buildings and places.

A case under Sections 302 and 324 of the PPC, 3/4 of the Explosives Act and 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act was lodged at the Old Anarkali police station on behalf of the state.

A police investigator told Dawn that forensic experts had cleared the crime scene after collecting evidence and samples of the explosives had been sent for analysis.

He said the intensity of the blast had increased because it also blew up the compressor of the freezer and empty soft drink bottles lying at the place.

The investigator said police could not find any clue from CCTV footages obtained from various shops.

Inspector General of Punjab Police Khan Baig and Lahore DIG (Investigation) Zulfiqar Hameed inspected the crime scene and gathered details of the investigation after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif sought an immediate report.

The chief minister, who was in China along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, asked the law-enforcement agencies to utilise all resources to track down the assailants.

Mr Baig said police were looking at the case from different angles and the terrorists would be brought to justice.

He said police would ensure comprehensive security for citizens during Ramazan.

VICTIMS: Six-year-old Sadia, 18-year-old Farhan of Baghbanpura, Shujaur Rehman of Bhalwal, 16-year-old Noman Iqbal of Faisalabad and a 35-year-old man were killed.

A Mayo hospital morgue official said four bodies had been handed over to their families.

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