At least 10 persons were killed and over 20 wounded on Thursday, when a massive blast rocked parts of Lahore in Pakistan, a day after the army announced a countrywide crackdown against terrorists.
The powerful explosion targeted the Defence Housing Authority – a commercial area with scores of eateries, including restaurants serving Indian cuisine, police said.
There were conflicting reports regarding the nature of the blast.
Punjab government authorities initially claimed that the blast was the result of a “generator explosion”, but multiple sources, including Nayab Haider, a spokesman for Punjab police, later said the explosion was caused by a bomb.
“Ten people were killed as a result of the explosion in Lahore’s Defence area today (Thursday),” Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique told the media, adding that forensic teams were working on the case.
The impact of the blast shattered windows of nearby buildings and vehicles. According to bomb disposal squad, a bomb was planted inside an under-construction building and detonated through a timing device. As much as eight to 10 kg of explosive material was used.
There were reports of a second blast in Lahore’s Gulberg area. However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied it.
A day earlier, the military announced a massive urban counter-terrorism operation after a week of bombings in Punjab, Sindh, Fata, Khyber Pakhtunwa and Balochistan claimed at least 100 lives.
The worst bombing took place at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh’s Sehwan town last week when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the shrine, killing 90 people.
In Lahore on February 13, at least 13 people, including top police officials, were killed and dozens injured in suicide attack near the Punjab Assembly.
No militant group claimed the responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but the series of bombing in the past week has been claimed by the Jamat-ul-Ahrar group – a splinter group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.