LAHORE, Aug 30: Three people were injured and nine shops damaged due to a blast on Friday at the second floor of a three-storey plaza on Gulberg’s Main Boulevard.The loud explosion was heard in a radius of one kilometre, passersby said.

A bomb disposable squad, forensic experts and senior police officials visited the site. Some traders suspected that explosives were planted by militants and insisted on a thorough investigation, saying that as the plaza was owned by a senior police officer, anti-state elements might have targeted it. The police, however, ruled out terrorism calling it a ‘gas blast’.

The police inquiries said the incident took place an hour before the inauguration of a new restaurant constructed on the second floor of the ‘Mall 94’. The police said the huge blast had caused structural damage to nine shops in the plaza.

The roof of the second floor of the plaza and its boundary walls collapsed and the windowpanes of nearby buildings got shattered due to the impact of the blast.

Rescue 1122 officials said three people, including a security guard, suffered multiple injuries as shards hit them.

An official of the Rescue 1122 said the blast occurred in the kitchen of the restaurant and apparently it was a boiler blast.

Model Town Division SP (Operations) Tariq Aziz said gas leakage and accumulation at the blast site was the main cause of the incident.

“The blast had left a dangerous structural damage to the entire Mall 94”, the SP said adding that the centre of the blast was the restaurant,” he said.

When asked about the owner of the plaza, the SP expressed his ignorance.