LAHORE: A blast near Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed’s house in Johar Town on Wednesday afternoon claimed the lives of three people while 21 others were injured.
Five members of the same family were hurt in the blast. Moreover, a rickshaw driver and his youngest son were killed. Reportedly, seven of those who were injured are currently in critical condition. The blast shattered the windows of nearby houses and damaged parked vehicles. Eyewitnesses said that explosives were attached to a motorcycle, which they saw after they gathered following the explosion.
Police and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area for investigation. Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar and CTO Muntazer Mehdi also reached the site of the blast. Dogar said that the blast did not appear to be a gas explosion. He suspected that it was a bomb blast, however, it could not be confirmed until the bomb disposal squad, forensic teams and other evidence gathering teams complete their investigation.
Punjab IGP Inam Ghani also confirmed the casualties and injuries. He said that that the “police were targeted” and the damage could have been greater but the attackers could not reach their target due to police patrols and blockades. IGP Ghani also said that the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department has taken over the investigation.
When the police chief was asked about the presence of Hafiz Saeed’s house in the vicinity and the possibility of it being a target, he said that while the JuD chief’s house was nearby, the area was cordoned off by the police and the police were targeted. “If there was no police checkpoint, the attacker could have gone further,” he said.
Ghani said that the authorities will provide medical aid to those who were injured and those whose houses were damaged will be compensated. “Those who lost their lives cannot be compensated but those involved in this crime will be brought to justice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also took notice of the blast and demanded a report from the police chief while ordering an inquiry into the incident. Buzdar directed the concerned authorities to take all steps for the treatment of injured while those responsible for the blast should be brought to book immediately.
Moreover, the deputy commissioner of Lahore said a five-member committee was formed to assess the damage to houses and vehicles in the blast. He said that the committee has been directed to submit its report within two days. He added that the district administration was taking all possible measures to protect the lives and property of the people.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also took notice of the blast and sought a report from the provincial chief secretary and police chief. He said that the nature of the blast was being ascertained and federal agencies were assisting the provincial government in the investigation.
Following the explosion, the police and other law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area. Security in other parts of the provincial capital was also beefed up as the city was put on high alter. The DIG (operations) ordered increased security at the entry and exit points of the city. Later, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Lahore commissioner, DC and IGP visited the injured at Jinnah Hospital.
In May 2019, a bomb targeting police outside Data Darbar, one of the largest Muslim shrines in South Asia, in Lahore killed 12 people and wounded 25. The attack was claimed by the Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group of Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The TTP claimed responsibility in April 2017 for a suicide attack on army personnel taking part in the census that killed six people and wounded 19 in Lahore.
The deadliest of recent explosions struck Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in March 2016 killing at least 75 people and wounding 370. This attack, too, was claimed by the Hizbul Ahrar.