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Bomb blast in a fruit truck in Lahore

08 August, 2017

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LAHORE: A truck bomb killed one person and injured at least 34 people late Monday on Outfall Road in the provincial capital, officials said, in the latest bombing to rattle the eastern city of Lahore ahead of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s planned rally on Grand Trunk (GT) Road scheduled for Wednesday.

“The explosive material was planted inside a truck which was loaded with fruit,” said Abdullah Khan Sumbal, a top government official in Lahore.

Upon being informed, rescue teams rushed to the spot and started rescue operation. “At least 34 people have been injured, most of them were passers-by,” Sumbal said, adding that the injured had been taken to two hospitals. Rescue workers also said that they had pulled out a child who was buried under the debris. Later, a body was also removed from the rubble.

Heavy contingents of police, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Rangers and other law enforcement agencies also rushed to the spot and started investigation by cordoning off the area.

Officials initially said the explosion occurred when the truck touched high-tension wires. However, after some time, they confirmed that it was a bomb blast.

Authorities have launched an investigation to determine how and when the truck arrived in the area, Sumbal said. Jam Sajjad Hussain, a rescue service spokesman, said that at least three of the injured were in a critical condition.

The roof of a nearby house had collapsed due to the intensity of the explosion, while the windowpanes of nearby buildings had shattered from the shockwaves. A number of automobiles were also damaged in the incident. Rai Ijaz, a senior police officer at the site, told reporters that the explosion also created a big crater.

According to witnesses, the truck was parked in the open plot along with other trucks. They also said that the said truck had been parked there two to three days ago.

Some residents of the area said that they had informed the police about the presence of that particular truck, but the police did not take it seriously.

DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf, while talking to the media, said that it was a possibility that explosives were kept in the vehicle (truck), implying that the explosives could have been hidden there for a later use.

The official said that everything would be cleared after completing the investigation, adding that the CTD and law enforcement agencies were collecting evidence from the scene.

Meanwhile, Provincial Minister for Specialised Healthcare Khawaja Salman Rafique – during his visit to Mian Munshi Hospital – said that 24 injured people had been shifted there and all of them were stable. He said that 10 of the injured had been discharged after being given medical treatment.

On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has sought a report from the Punjab Police inspector general (IG) about the incident. He directed that the incident should be thoroughly investigated from every angle and the responsible persons be arrested as soon as possible. He directed the administration to provide best healthcare facilities to the injured.

The chief minister had directed the Rescue 1122 and other aid agencies to speed up their rescue activities as soon as he heard about the incident.

The spokesman for the Punjab government said that the injured victims were being provided best treatment facilities at the hospitals.

On the direction of Shehbaz Sharif, provincial minister as well as the health secretary were personally supervising the healthcare facilities being provided to the injured, he said. The spokesman said that Rescue 1122 and other agencies immediately rushed to scene, took part in aid activities and transferred the injured to hospitals well in time. He said that doctors, nurses and paramedical staff were taking care of the injured in hospitals. Due to the prompt response of the departments concerned of the Punjab government, the injured were transferred to the hospitals as early as possible, he said.

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