Wednesday, June 23, 2021
LAHORE: At least three people were killed, while 24 others sustained injuries when an explosion took place in the city's Johar Town area, with the provincial police chief believing police were the target, Geo News reported Wednesday.
Rescue, police, and bomb disposal teams reached the site of the incident soon after the blast.
Witnesses said the windows of nearby houses and buildings were shattered in the explosion. In addition, one of the buildings was severely damaged due to the intensity of the blast. Several cars parked close to the buildings were also damaged.
The injured, 21 so far, were shifted to Lahore's Jinnah Hospital via private cars and auto-rickshaws for treatment. Three persons succumbed to their injuries during the treatment, the medical superintendent of the hospital said.
The Jinnah Hospital management has asked people to come forward and donate blood for the injured, adding that wounded are being treated at the hospital.
A police officer, a woman, and two children were among those injured by the blast. The injured are in critical condition due to the burns caused by the blast.
Such was the intensity of the blast that its sound was heard even in faraway areas. However, the nature of the blast has not been ascertained yet.
An eyewitness told Geo News that an unidentified person parked a motorcycle near the house, which later exploded.
Police have cordoned off the area for further investigation while traffic has been redirected.
A preliminary report of a probe by investigative agencies has been submitted to Inspector General Punjab Inam Ghani, sources told Geo News.
The report will be presented to Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar shortly, said the sources.
More than 30kg of explosives were used in the blast, according to the initial report, which adds that "foreign-made materials" were used.
Ball bearings, nails and other explosives were among the objects used in the bomb.
The initial report states that the material had been planted onto a car and the device was detonated remotely.
A 3-foot deep and 8-foot wide crater has formed at the site of the blast, the report said.
The blast caused damage within a 100-square-foot radius.
IGP Ghani has surmised that the police had been targeted in the attack. While speaking to the media shortly after the blast, he advised the people to not pay any heed to rumours related to the blast.
The IGP told the media that the Counter Terrorism Department is probing the incident and a detailed report will be shared about the nature of the blast and the material used.
"We are not sure what caused the explosion or whether it was a planted device [that caused the explosion], or a suicide blast," he said at the time.
In response to a question whether Hafiz Saeed — the leader of the outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was the target — Ghani said: "There is a police picket near the house of a high value target, which is why the vehicle could not have gone near the house." This is why he believes the police were targeted, reported Geo News.
He did not provide any further information on the high value target.
"You should be thankful to the police," he said.
Ghani vowed to arrest those behind the terrorist act.
Following the bomb attack in Johar Town, the Lahore police chief issued directives to heighten security across the city.
Snap-checking in Johar Town and nearby areas has been ramped up, a statement from the CCPO office said.
Special instructions have been given to check suspicious individuals and unclaimed items.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has taken notice of the incident and has sought a report from the chief secretary and IG Punjab.
"The federal agencies are assisting the Punjab government in the investigation," the minister added.
Following the incident, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has asked the Inspector-General of Police to submit a detailed report of the blast to him.
Taking to Twitter, the Government of Punjab announced that the CM has ordered an immediate investigation of the incident.
An emergency has been declared in Jinnah Hospital to treat the injured, while Rescue 1122 and other relief organisation have been asked to expedite rescue activities.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif termed the blast in the heart of Lahore "ominous".
"Deeply concerned that law and order [...] is not being given the kind of attention it deserves," he wrote.
He extended his condolences to the bereaved families and prayers for the injured.
Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz strongly condemned the blast. "I was very saddened to learn of the loss of precious lives in the blast," the official Twitter account of the PML-N quoted him as saying.
"This incident is enough to open the eyes of the government. The law and order situation is dire, the full extent of which the leaders seem to be unaware of," he said.
"We emerged from the menace of terrorism with great difficulty; its resurrection is not a good omen," Hamza said.
The Opposition leader in the Punjab assembly, prayed for the victims of the incident and for their bereaved families.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chalked up the blast to Pakistan's policy in the Afghan peace process being "misdirected".