09/23/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Local Church condemns twin bombing in Lahore

by Qaiser Felix
Two bombs placed under bicycle seats killed seven people in the first attack of its kind in Punjab province.  "They are acts of terror," says Mgr Saldanha.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – "Acts of terror designed to destabilise the country" is how Mgr Lawrence Saldanha characterised the two bombs that yesterday killed 7 people in his diocese of Lahore, injuring another 30. "These deplorable acts could be some sort of protest against government's policies but we can not say who did this," he added.

The first rudimentary bomb was placed under a bicycle seat and exploded at 10:45 am (local time) near the Minar-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Day Memorial) in Azadi Chowk Park. The second bomb, also been placed under a bicycle seat, went off at 12:15 pm in Ichhra bazaar, a busy commercial area.

"Something exploded with a big bang," said shopkeeper Mohammed Aslam. "People were running for help and, at the site of the blast, I saw many injured people who were bleeding. I saw blood, flesh and dust everywhere."

Based on the accounts from eyewitnesses who said they saw a suspect parking the bicycle used in the attack outside a public park, police are preparing a composite sketch of the attacker, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said.

According to Mobin Ahmed, Lahore security police Chief, it would seem that the same people are behind both attacks, but it is still too early to know who they might be, or their motive.

Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi visited the injured at the Services Hospital in Lahore. He announced they would receive a compensation of Rs 50,000 (€ 340 or US$ 420) whilst relatives of the dead would receive Rs 100,000.

For his part, Archbishop Saldanha said: "I am sorry about the [. . .] many innocent people [who] have been killed. But we should keep in mind that terrorism is not a solution but only destruction."

None the less, the prelate is not without hope. "We shall continue to pray for the victims and for peace in our country."

Following the Lahore bomb blasts, a high security alert has been declared in all of the country's major cities. Entry and exit routes to Lahore are under tight police control.

Yesterday's twin bombing was the first of its kind in Punjab province. The only other recorded bicycle bombing occurred on May 7, 2004, in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

A bomb exploded just outside the local High Court building, injuring a policeman and a passer-by. Investigations traced the blast back to the banned sectarian group, Lashkar-e Jhangvi.

Analysts note that bicycle-bombing is a new terrorist modus operandi and that could be used by any one of several banned militant groups. It might also be a reaction to talks between Pakistani and Israeli officials, which raises the possibility that religious militants might be behind Thursday's attacks.

 

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