dawn/ann
Lahore, 7 July
At least five people were killed and 50 others, including women, were injured when an explosion occurred at an eatery situated in Old Anarkali’s food street area of Lahore last night.
Police identified two of the dead as a six-year-old girl named Sadia and a 20-year-old youth named Fahad Tasleem. The condition of eight injured persons is said to be critical. The Punjab government announced compensation for all the victims and their family members. The Punjab capital had so far remained immune to the wave of bombings that has terrorised the three other provincial headquarters over the past four years. Observers found the timing of the attack ~ exactly one month after the PML-N government came to power ~ intriguing. Television channels quoted the provincial police chief as having told his force to be on alert as “more acts of terror” could follow “within 72 hours”. Preliminary police inquiries suggested that a time device had been placed between chairs near Bokhara Restaurant. It created a one-foot deep crater when it exploded. Mostly lower middle class families dine in the open at one of the oldest food spots of the city on weekends. Witnesses and police said the street was almost packed to capacity when the device blew off.
The blast also damaged some cars and motorcycles parked on nearby roads and also an electricity transformer. Some shops were damaged. Shopkeepers closed their shops soon after the blast. Policemen and officials of other law enforcement agencies in large numbers cordoned off the place and both ends of the food street. Footages from CCTVs installed at some shops were obtained by police to identify the culprits. The blast occurred in a high security zone which is home to government offices, including the Central Police Office. An extensive search operation was conducted in the area a few days ago. DIG (Investigation) Zulfiqar Hameed said that apparently the target was ordinary people dining at restaurants.