A day after the blast at the Lahore railway station which killed two people, a tragedy of much bigger proportion was averted when a 13kg bomb on a passenger train in Attock was defused by the police on Wednesday, officials said.
The explosive material was recovered by a guard in the Awam Express at Attock City Railway Station. The two back-to-back incidents heightened security concerns.
A guard found the bomb in a briefcase in the early hours of the morning on the train from Karachi to Peshawar.
“The bomb, fitted with detonator and batteries, was packed with old clothes in a briefcase lying unattended in one of the coaches of the Awam Express,” police officer Mazhar Abbas said.
The train guard found the briefcase after a wedding party disembarked from the train at Attock station, he said.
A bomb disposal squad was then summoned who defused the device, he added.
Police investigator Mohammed Sajjad said that the bomb carried 13kg of explosives as well as ball bearings and some nuts and bolts.
“Luckily a major tragedy has been averted,” he added.
Sources said that the Awami Express train that departed from Lahore soon after the blast, stationed at Hassanabdal where some passengers disembarked. The Railway Police claim that they spotted the suspicious bag in compartment number 16, which was then taken off at Attock station.
SSP Railway Police Lahore Shehzad Aslam told The Express Tribune that the bag found in Attock was similar to the one which exploded in Lahore. He said that it is being suspected that the alleged culprit possibly disembarked at Hassanabdal and left the bag in the train but it was too early to ascertain whether the bags came from Karachi, the train’s port of departure.
During his visit at the Lahore Railway Station on Wednesday, the Federal Minister for Railways, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, claimed that the explosive materials could not have been assembled on the railways premises. Instead, terrorists must have planned this activity in advance and brought the stuff from some other district.
Bilour said both the railways police and the district police were partly to blame for the negligence.
He added that it was not possible to check each passenger individually when entering a train.
Bilour said that the railways had demanded Rs20 million to enhance security six months ago, along with recruitment of at least 400 police officials. However, neither demand was entertained.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.