Thursday, January 20, 2022
LAHORE: A blast near Lahore's Anarkali Bazaar area on Thursday killed at least two people — including a child — and injured 26 others, Geo News reported, citing the Punjab health minister.
Police officials said that an improvised explosive device (IED) was used in the blast. Windows of nearby shops and buildings were left shattered by the explosion, while motorcycles parked near the site of the blast were damaged.
Speaking to the media, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said that at least two people lost their lives in the blast, including a child.
She said that a total of 28 people were brought to the city's Mayo Hospital, out of which one was already dead, while a child lost his life in the hospital during treatment.
The injured included three women, who are now in stable condition, she said.
The minister further informed the media that four patients are currently being operated on and are in critical condition.
Shedding light on the details of the injuries, Rashid said that no burnt cases were reported; however, all injured had orthopaedic injuries.
The deceased include a man identified as Ramzan, 31, who was a resident of Ferozewala and a 9-year-old child identified as Absar, who hailed from Karachi.
According to the preliminary investigation report of the blast, which has been submitted by the Inspector-General of Punjab to CM Punjab, the explosion was carried out with the help of a planted device.
Per details, a 1.5-kilogramme explosive material was used which damaged a building and eight motorcycles.
The report mentioned that the blast was heard at 1:40pm; while a call from an unknown number was received at 1:44pm informing the authorities that a blast has been heard in Lahore’s Anarkali area after which the police and rescue officials rushed to the place of incident.
Police, forensic departments, and other investigative agencies are present at the scene and are currently examining the footage from the CCTV cameras for further investigation.
Per the report, some suspects have been arrested and are being investigated.
Ramzan's brother, while speaking to the media at Mayo Hospital, said that his family resides in Muridke and that his brother had come to work after a holiday. He said Ramzan used to work for a mithai (sweetmeat) business.
Ramzan, who his brother said was 31 years old, left behind a four-year-old daughter.
On the other hand, Absar's maternal uncle also spoke to the media at the hospital and said that the family was staying at a hotel near the Anarkali Bazaar area.
"We had come to show the Anarkali Bazaar to our kids when the explosion occurred," said the uncle.
"We had booked return tickets for Karachi for this evening. Now we won't go to Karachi. We will go to Muzaffarabad," he said.
The bodies of both Ramzan and Absar have been taken to a mortuary for an autopsy.
Police officials told Geo News that the blast caused a 1.5 feet-deep crater in the ground.
Scores of visitors throng the Anarkali area every day where a number of markets and a variety of business centres are located.
Deputy Commissioner Lahore Umer Sher Chattha said the blast took place at 1:45pm, while safe city cameras would be used to track down the culprits.
The area has been cordoned off and police officials are gathering evidence from the scene of the crime, he said.
Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed told Geo News that there was a "threat of terrorism".
"I am going [to the area] and will collect more information; once I have more updates, I will let [people] know."
Meanwhile, Lahore deputy inspector-general of operations, Dr Muhammad Abid Khan, had said that no security alert had been issued.
The interior minister, shedding light on other issues, told journalists that the ceasefire between the government and the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has come to an end, adding that a red alert has been issued for five other major cities across Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the incident and said that precious lives had been lost due to the blast. He instructed the authorities to provide immediate medical assistance to the injured.
The premier also asked the Punjab government to submit a report on the blast.
President Dr Arif Alvi extended his condolences to the victims of the Lahore blast and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, in a statement, condemned the incident and ordered authorities to arrest the people responsible for the blast.
"The government stands with the affectees in their times of sorrow," he said.
Buzdar termed the incident a "despicable move" with a view to "sabotage the peaceful atmosphere" of the city.
He said the culprits "will not be able to escape the law".
"The government shares in the sorrow of the families whose loved ones died or are injured," he said, adding that he has instructed the authorities to ensure the best possible medical assistance to those wounded in the blast.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said the blast at the historic market was "upsetting", as poor people and innocent children lost their lives, while scores were injured as a result of the explosion.
"Terrorism in Lahore after Islamabad is not a good omen for the country," he said.
Responding to the incident, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz said a blast taking occurring at an extremely crowding place was concerning.
"May Allah have mercy on the families and Pakistan," she said.
JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman extended his condolences to the families of those killed in the blast but blamed the government for the incident.
“The incident seems to be a conspiracy towards making the country unstable again. The federal and provincial governments have failed to stop these incidents from happening and maintain law and order to ensure the safety of the citizens,” he said.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said she was sorry to hear about the blast and said that her heart goes out to the affected families.