Powerful blast rocks Lahore’s Anarkali market: 3 killed

A scene of blast at Lahori Gate of Anarkali Bazar in Lahore, Pakistan on Thursday. (UNI)
A scene of blast at Lahori Gate of Anarkali Bazar in Lahore, Pakistan on Thursday. (UNI)

LAHORE, Jan 20: A powerful bomb blast today ripped through a crowded market where Indian commodities are sold in Pakistan’s cultural capital here, killing three persons and wounding 28 others, police said.
The blast took place near the Paan Mandi in the famous Anarkali market, where Indian commodities are sold.
Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Usman told reporters that two people, including a nine year-old boy, were killed in the blast claimed by a Baloch insurgent group. “It was a high explosive device targeting a crowded place to ensure maximum casualties,” he said.
The death toll later rose to three after one critical person succumbed to his wounds.
The explosive device went off at 1.45pm near the Paan Mandi when the market was crowded. Scores of people were wounded and videos on social media show that a few of them were lying in a pool of blood with severed limbs.
A number of motorcycles and vendors’ stalls were also damaged in the blast that shattered windows of nearby shops and buildings.
The Baloch Nationalist Army (BNA), one of several ethnic insurgent groups active in the mineral-rich southwestern Balochistan province – claimed responsibility for the blast.
“We accept the responsibility for targeting the bank in Anarkali Bazaar Lahore. This attack targeted bank employees. A detailed statement will be issued soon,” BNA spokesman Mureed Baloch said in a tweet.
The BNA had earlier warned that it will target the financial institutions.
Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is home to a long-running violent insurgency. Baloch insurgent groups have previously carried out several attacks targeting China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the region.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the blast and instructed authorities to provide the best medical facilities to the injured. He also sought a report from the Punjab government over the incident.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has directed the Inspector General of police to submit a report on the incident. He also directed officials to provide the injured with the best possible medical facilities.
“This incident is aimed at sabotaging the atmosphere of law and order. Those responsible for the blast will not be able to escape the clutches of the law,” he said.
Inspector General of Police (Punjab) Rao Sardar Khan said all resources will be used to nab those behind this blast. “Some suspects have been taken into custody after examining the CCTV footage,” he said, adding that police, intelligence and forensic agencies are working together.
“We are ascertaining the nature of the blast,” Deputy Inspector General Police Operation Dr Mohammad Abid told reporters at the site of the blast near Lahore’s historic Walled City.
“The crater at the blast site indicated the possibility of a time device. However, at this stage we can’t confirm this,” he said.
According to Rescue 1122, the injured have been shifted to the Mayo Hospital where two succumbed to their injuries.
Mayo Hospital medical superintendent Dr Iftikhar said two injured persons, including a nine-year-old boy, succumbed to their injuries and the condition of four others is critical. He said the injured also included women. Later, he said that a third critically injured person succumbed at the hospital.
The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police registered an FIR against three unidentified terrorists in the Anarkali bomb blast. A station house officer of the CTD has become a complainant in the case. (PTI)