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10 ppl killed in a blast in Lahore DHA

24 February, 2017

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LAHORE: At least 10 people were killed and 28 injured in a blast in Defence Housing Authority on Thursday.The blast, which occurred at around 11:18am, destroyed cars and sent panic rippling through the city.

"My God, my God, I saw so many bodies," said Imtiaz Ali, a barber in a Toni&Guy hair salon opposite the blast site in the posh Defence Housing Authority suburb of the city, replete with upscale boutiques and cafes.

The building where the bomb went off was under construction in a market crowded with people, including children, the 34-year-old said.

"When I came out I first just saw smoke and dust... Bikes upturned. Cars destroyed. My own colleague's car windows blown out. My clients' cars blown out. I was close to fainting."

Police and administration officials confirmed it was a bomb attack, as the provincial health minister Khawaja Salman Rafique and rescuers reported the casualty toll.

"Four people died on the spot while another four died of their wounds in the hospital," Rafique said.  No group has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.

Just over an hour later, rumours of a second blast in Gulberg, another affluent and popular area, sent ambulances racing to the scene, though authorities later said the reports were false.

Panic also spread on social media as citizens exchanged messages purporting to be warnings from intelligence agencies, including one that falsely stated a general curfew had been ordered in Lahore with shoot-on-sight orders.

The rumours underscored the growing nervousness across the country as a series of assaults shook Pakistanis emboldened by what had been a prolonged lull in violence.

Some of the deceased were identified as CEO Airlink Communications Moazzam Paracha, Javed, Imran, Shabbir, Aslam, Richard Naseer, Habibullah, and Asif. The injured were identified as Afzal, Nasir, Waqar Quershi, Muhammad Mansha, Hafeez, Jamil, Zeeshan, Zia, Asad Sultan, Uma Lala.

Counter Terrorism Department SSP Iqbal said that information would be shared with the media after a comprehensive forensic report and further investigation. Later, the officials of CTD told reporters that the explosion was the result of a gas leak.

However, law enforcement agencies and authorities have not yet confirmed the nature of the explosion. Bomb Disposal Squad officials said it seemed that dynamite might have be used. However, the actual cause of this mysterious blast could only be ascertained after forensic laboratory tests.

People rushed to the scene while searching for their relatives who worked in the affected area but law enforcers barred them. Police and city government officials initially failed to provide information about the death toll and injuries.

However, SP Investigation Cantt Nadeem said that seven people lost their lives in the incident. Emergency has been declared in hospitals and the Lahore General Hospital MS also told the media that five bodies have been received while several people are in a critical condition.

Earlier, Bomb Disposal Squad officials stated that a time bomb was planted inside the building. Around 17 to 22kg of explosives were used. Meanwhile, two suspicious people have been arrested from the scene.

People said usually army and other law enforcers patrol the area in rush hours.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the explosion and expressed his grief and sorrow over the loss of lives. He directed health authorities to provide the best medical treatment to the injured and also sought a report from the inspector general and directed him to arrest those involved in the incident. The Chief Minister said, "The heartless beasts who have killed the innocent people will never be able to escape punishment and those who have targeted innocent people deserve no leniency and they will get exemplary punishment."

He said, "All sympathies of the Punjab government are with the bereaved families and we all equally share their grief and shock. The whole nation is united against terrorism and terrorists cannot shatter the determination of the nation through such cowardly acts."

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