Five blasts in quick succession follow SMS warnings

LAHORE: Five low-intensity cracker bombs exploded near the Badshahi Masjid immediately after an SMS warning was sent out by a group calling itself the Difa-e-Nazariyae- Pakistan Tanzeem.

The police arrested five suspects from the area during a search operation and recovered one suicide jacket from their possession. Three crackers went off at Tibbi Gate, one on Fort Road and the final one on Chet Ram Road. No deaths were reported while at least four people including a police official were injured. The City Division superintendant police revealed that the bombs were locally manufactured and stated that the city was now on high alert. Rescue 1122 officials, Edhi ambulances and police vehicles were quick to respond and reach the area.

The bomb disposal squad was also called in to comb the area for more bombs and analyse the explosives used. Shafique Gujjar, SSP (Opera-tions) confirmed that all the city exits were cordoned off to ensure the bombers could not leave unnoticed. He believed that the blasts were intended to cause panic. He stated that people needed to react to such incidents bravely. “We are fighting a war against terrorism and these attacks should not demoralise us” said the SSP. “This cannot be called a failure of security.

We have increased street patrols and we have set up several pickets to arrest suspects. If some group has claimed responsibility then we will investigate their claim as well”, he added. An eyewitness said that men on two motorbikes had scattered the bombs on various intersections and narrow streets of the Walled City. Yasir Asghar stated that seconds later the bombs exploded, shattering windows of nearby houses and damaging roadside kiosks. He recalled that the explosives caused extreme panic with people running to avoid injury.

The people opted to stay indoors in the aftermath of the blasts. Suhail Saleem who lives inside Taxali Gate said: “I ran out when I heard the blasts to find that some shops and windowpanes had been damaged. Two people, identified as Sabir and Faisal, received injuries. They received first aid and have been discharged”. DCO Sajjad Bhutta said that the sole purpose apparently was to spread fear. He compared the blasts to the attacks in Allama Iqbal Town and Peeru’s Cafe.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.