Truce with Taliban broken as 3 die and 25 injured Lahore attack
The dead include a nine-year-old girl. Some of the wounded are in critical condition. The explosion hit the Anarkali Bazaar, one of the most crowded places in the metropolis. The government suspends the ceasefire with the TTP, maximum alert in at least five cities for new attacks.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - At least three people were killed and 25 wounded - but the toll is still provisional - in the huge explosion that yesterday afternoon hit the Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, Punjab province. At first, the police assumed that the explosion was caused by a gas cylinder, but as the hours passed, it emerged that a homemade device planted in the area was behind the incident.
In the explosion, which occurred at 1.40 p.m., a nine-year-old girl also died. The blast shattered the windows and glass of several buildings and shops in the area. According to the first information leaked out by the investigators, the improvised explosive device (IED) was placed in a motorbike parked near an lcoal bank: it weighed about 1.5 kg and caused a crater of almost half a metre.
Hospital sources said that at least four of the injured have undergone surgery and are in a critical condition.
Anarkali is one of the most characteristic and busiest places in the Pakistani metropolis, with many shops, markets and business centres. Yasmin Rashid, Punjab Health Minister, reports that at least 28 people were taken to the Mayo Hospital for medical treatment, one of whom has died. The nine-year-old girl who died in the explosion also passed away as doctors tried, in vain, to treat her.
Police and security departments have started investigations in search of those responsible. Deputy Commissioner Umer Sher Chattha says that the images from the security cameras in the area will be analysed in order to find any clues to the investigation. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed has announced the suspension of the ceasefire between the government and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan). In these hours the alert is high in five major cities of the country, in fear of new attacks. Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the explosion and called on the health authorities to make every effort to ensure medical care for the injured.
On 17 January, a policeman and two people were injured in an attack by a group of armed men at a checkpoint in Islamabad. Speaking to AsiaNews, human rights activist Zahid Farooq asked the Pakistani Christian community to pray for peace in Pakistan, for those who have lost their lives and for the wounded who need treatment and medicine. Finally, he reiterates his call to the population not to leave their homes without urgent reasons, as long as the red alert issued by the government remains in force.