It was meant to be a relaxing night out for seven university students after the end of their second semester exams. At around 10:35pm, they sat at a restaurant at the busy Food Street in Anarkali, chatting and enjoying the hustle and bustle of a Saturday night, anticipating the arrival of their dinner.
And then a deafening blast. The friends were violently flung from their chairs, smoke spreading everywhere. “I remember falling to the ground, hearing people’s cries, and then I lost consciousness,” says Hammad Ahmed, one of the seven software engineering students from the Punjab University College of Information Technology (PUCIT).
When he came to, Ahmad learned that his friend Farhan Sheikh had not made it. “It is extremely painful to be told that one of your friends, who was with you at the dinner table last night, isn’t around any longer. He was a great guy,” says Ahmed, speaking to The Express Tribune at Mayo Hospital. His five other PUCIT friends Muzammil Abkar, Ammad Malik, Sultan Butt, Umar Farooq and Hasnain Shahid some of them seriously injured, are also being treated there. “Not all of them know Farhan has passed away,” he adds.
Taj Muhammad, 22, runs a shoe-shop near the restaurant targeted in Saturday night’s bombing. “The Food Street was very busy as a lot of people had come to dine with families and friends at the weekend. Everything seemed normal. At around 10:35pm I heard an explosion and saw people fall down. Then there was chaos as people began rushing here and there. I noticed I was bleeding from the head and my brother brought me here,” says Muhammad, who suffered injuries to his foot and head.
Zahid Hussain, 51, was having dinner at the time of the explosion. “The noise was so loud that I couldn’t hear for quite a long time after. We later heard it was a timed-device. We didn’t see anybody planting or placing anything under the tables over there,” he says.
Taj Wali, 20, who received serious injuries, told The Express Tribune from his hospital bed that rescuers arrived at the scene some 10 to 15 minutes after the blast. “The bang was deafening and I saw shop shutters crack open. People were afraid there would be a second blast so they did not immediately start trying to help the injured,” he says.
The Mayo Hospital emergency director said a total of 50 people had been brought in with injuries and five had died in the blast. Medical Superintendent Dr Zahid Pervaiz said that 30 people were still under treatment, all of them out of danger.
The PU students got a steady stream of visitors at Mayo Hospital on Saturday, from classmates, teachers and administrators, including Islami Jamiat Talaba Nazim Hafiz Nauman Zafar and PU Vice Chancellor Mujahid Kamran.
Talking to reporters, Prof Kamran condemned the Anarkali bombing. He said that it was a cowardly attack that would not bring down the national morale. He demanded that the government catch the perpetrators.
Health Minister Khalil Tahir Sindhu and Health Secretary Hassan Iqbal visited the injured and asked them and their families whether they were satisfied with the quality of care being provided. The injured would be treated for free until they were fully recovered, they said.
Sindhu said that the attack was carried out by “beasts, not human beings”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2013.
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