At least three dead, 24 others injured in blast that the Punjab inspector-general has described as a targeted bombing
At least three people were killed, and 24 others injured, following a bombing in Lahore’s Johar Town area that also damaged nearby houses and vehicles.
Punjab Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani told media at the site that the Counter-Terrorism Department had taken over the investigation and would ascertain the exact nature and cause of the blast. Confirming that the explosion had been a bombing—likely with explosives planted in a vehicle—he said the CTD would determine if it had been a suicide bombing or an improvised explosive device. “I hope we will soon give you good news about the ongoing investigation and apprehension of suspects,” he said, adding that authorities would also strive to compensate residents for losses to their property.
“The majority of terrorist attacks in Pakistan are the work of outside forces, hostile intelligence agencies,” he alleged. “Our people love their country and want to see it prosper,” he added. To a question, he said he did not believe the bombing was targeting the nearby house of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed. “You you can see there is a picket outside [Saeed’s house], otherwise the vehicle could have gone anywhere,” he said, adding that this was why he believed the target had been local police forces.
“We feel that law-enforcement agencies are being targeted to lower morale,” he said. But, he added, this was the wrong impression. “Our officers do not feel demoralized,” he vowed.
Earlier, Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar confirmed the casualties to media but refused to comment on the nature of the blast, stressing that this information would only be shared after a preliminary investigation into the incident had been completed. “The Bomb Disposal Squad will share the details about the nature of explosion,” he said. To a question, he said a woman and children were among the injured.
With the injured having all been shifted to the Jinnah Hospital, its management has urged people to come forward and donate blood for their treatment. They said that several of the injured had been severely burned and their condition was critical. Jinnah Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Yahya Sultan told journalists that seven of the injured were in critical condition, adding the injuries were indicated ball bearings had been used in the bomb.
Local media reported that the blast, which occurred around 11:20 a.m., had been of a severe intensity, damaging houses and destroying vehicles parked nearby. Witnesses said that windows of all nearby houses had been shattered. Police have cordoned off the area for further investigation, with the Lahore CCPO saying officials had been directed to prevent passerby from crowding the site of the blast and damaging rescue or investigation efforts.
Both Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed have taken notice of the incident. In a posting on Twitter, Ahmed said he had sought a report about it from the Punjab chief secretary and inspector general. “The federal agencies are ready to assist the Punjab government in the investigation,” he said, adding prayers for the speedy recovery of all injured.
Buzdar, meanwhile, said he had director the IG to submit a detailed report on the blast to him. In a press statement, the Government of Punjab announced he had ordered an urgent inquiry into the explosion. He also directed authorities to ensure the injured received the best medical care.
A first information report has been registered under sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, Anti-Terrorism Act and Explosive Substance Act against unidentified persons by the CTD. It states that some officers of the CTD were present near Jinnah Hospital while searching for members of a banned terrorist organization when they heard a loud explosion from the Johar Town area.
“The blast was so strong that a deep hole had formed at the site of the explosion and the doors and windows of nearby houses had been broken and the cars parked nearby had been damaged,” it reads, adding that initial inquiries have found that a large amount of explosives were detonated inside the vehicle.