LAHORE, Sept 22: At least six people, including a woman, were killed and 27 injured in two bomb blasts in the city on Thursday. Police said the bombs went off within an interval of one and a half hour.
The injured were rushed to Mayo and Services hospitals for medical assistance where seven were stated to be in a critical condition.
Planted beneath the seat of a bicycle, the first bomb exploded at 10:50am near a makeshift food stall outside the boundary wall of the Minar-i-Pakistan park. One person was killed and nine wounded in this incident.
The second bomb, which went off at 12:20pm, had been placed under a wooden platform of a jewellery shop in Ichhra. It killed five people, including a woman, and caused injuries to 18 others.
The police, Rescue 1122, Edhi Foundation, Bomb Disposal Squad and other civic agencies rushed to the spots and joined the people who had already begun rescue work.
“It is too early to make any comment. We have begun the investigation keeping in mind all aspects, including terrorism,” Lahore city police chief DIG Tariq Saleem told Dawn, adding that special police teams had been set up to investigate the blasts.
“I will only be able to make any further comment once the investigation is completed.”
Around a dozen people were taking breakfast at the makeshift food stall when the first device went off, Lahore security police chief Mobin Ahmad said. “We were still busy shifting the injured to hospitals when we learnt about the other explosion.”
Both the bombs were stated to be locally made high-intensity and loosely packed devices.
“We cannot say anything about the weight of the bombs, which would only be ascertained in a laboratory test,” the security chief added.
People were busy shopping in Ichhra when the second bomb exploded, forcing them to run for their lives.
“I was passing through the market when I heard a big bang. It was like as if a huge building had collapsed. I saw dust, blood and pieces of bodies. Something heavy hit me in the chest,” said Faisal Ali, who together with his father Shamsuddin suffered injuries in the second blast. They both had visited a bank shortly before they suffered the wounds. His father said nobody was listening to anybody, and it was just like a doomsday.
The Rescue 1122 personnel were the first ones to rush to the second spot and shifted the injured persons to the Services Hospital, he said.
A shopkeeper, Naeem Mumtaz, said he was dealing with customers when he heard the explosion and saw people running helter skelter. “I ran towards the spot and saw the wounded crying for help.”
Cosmetics, artificial jewellery, bangles and garments were found scattered on the second blast site, and some vehicles also were damaged there.
The police surrounded the locality and blocked the flow of traffic from all sides, diverting vehicles and motorists to other link roads. The traffic also remained suspended for about two hours on roads close to the first spot.
Inayat Ali, a vendor, said he saw the bicycle turning into pieces and then flying into air near the Minar-i-Pakistan. So was done with the cart of the vendor make-shift stall where the bomb went off, he added. “I followed other people who had taken to their heels.”
Those killed in the Ichhra blast included Qari Ehsanullah, 45, Malik Jamshid, 19, Ms Rabia, 30, Yasir Zahoor, 28, and Muhammad Boota, 27, while the one victim of the other blast was identified as Muhammad Yasin, 24.
Later, Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi visited the Services Hospital to inquire about the injured persons. He announced a compensation of Rs100,000 each for those who lost their lives in the blasts and Rs50,000 for each injured person.
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in the city, especially in and around places of worship, churches and foreign installations.