LAHORE: Two internet cafes, in different areas of the city, were attacked on Saturday with low-intensity timed devices. The blasts, which were about four minutes apart, left seven people injured.
An organisation by the name of Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz-e-Haqooq-e-Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the ‘warning attacks’. Various media organisations received SMS messages just before the explosions. The messages, in addition to claiming responsibility for the blasts in the provincial capital, also pleaded with the government to “take steps to control the spread of vulgarity” and “not to test our patience”.
Four people were injured in the first blast that took place in Crown Internet Café, situated on the first floor of the Crown Arcade, Habibullah Road, Garhi Shahu. The injured were identified as Muhammad Awais (22), Hassan (22), Kashif (21) and Abduallah.
The second timed device went off at the Fast Internet Café at Begum Kot, Shahdara and injured three people, including Naveed Khan son of Aziz (35), Haider Ali son of Najaf Shah (24) and Atique Khan (40) son of Khalil Khan.
Both the cafes were completely destroyed as a result, with shattered glass scattering to a distance of up to 100 feet. All shops in and around the plazas were shut down after the blasts. After the blast, all the internet cafes on Garhi Shahu Road were closed.
Heavy contingents of police reached the sites of the blasts soon after the explosions and cordoned off the areas by placing barriers and erecting tents. Personnel of Rescue 1122, Edhi Foundation and Civil Defence helped with the rescue operations. The injured were shifted to Mayo Hospital and Services Hospital.
The Civil Defence district officer, Mazhar Hussain told The Express Tribune that each bomb had one kilogramme of low-yield explosives. He confirmed that no shrapnel or ball bearings were recovered from any of the sites, adding that the devices had been manufactured locally.
Initially, the city police had conjectured that the blasts were caused by exploding UPS batteries. Even though at both the blasts’ sites there was no evidence that pointed to exploding batteries, the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Muhammad Aslam Tareen remained unclear about the actual cause of the explosions – saying that it was hard to determine whether the blasts were caused by low-intensity time bombs or exploding batteries. The CCPO added that if timed devices were used, ‘local elements’ were probably responsible.
The Crown Arcade housing the internet café in Garhi Shau also has two art academies, two beauty parlours and a juice corner. The arcade is part of the Crown Banquet Hall, previously the Crown Cinema.
Mian Ahmed Meraj, the owner of Crown Arcade, told The Express Tribune that Amir, the owner of the internet café, had been his tenant since 20 years. Meraj said that they had never received any threats from terrorists.
He said that Amir was currently in India with his family and his brother Awais had been running the café, adding, “No objectionable activities took place in the café.”
The internet café in Shahdara was set up about two months ago and was located in the basement of a plaza. As a result of the blast, around 10 other shops on the floor were damaged. There were also reports of a passer-by, who was injured after she fell as a result of the explosion. However, she was administered first-aid at the scene and allowed to leave.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2010.