KARACHI, Dec 5: A huge explosion that police said was caused by a gas cylinder in the densely-populated Lines Area of Karachi sparked panic and fear in the neighbourhood on Monday night just minutes after a Muharram procession passed through the area, officials and witnesses said.

Police initially insisted that the cylinder in an auto electrician shop went off, causing a big bang, but later they said only a thorough inspection of the scene and examination of objects collected from the site by the bomb disposal unit would determine the exact reasons behind the blast.

“We have examined the scene. It suggested that the cylinder in the closed electrician shop went off and caused the explosion,” said SP Abdul Salam Sheikh. “But still we have called the bomb disposal unit which may take time to come up with their final words which could finally be called as exact reason.”

The area people, however, refused to buy the police line, saying the explosion was caused by a bomb planted in one of the shops along the Muharram procession route.

“The sound of the explosion was not of gas cylinder as it was heard miles away. The explosion badly damaged the shops around and one can’t see the traces of any cylinder there,” said a scout escorting the procession.

He said the explosion occurred near one of the shops behind the Saddar police station, which was also the route of a procession that emerged from the Lines Area.

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