28 dead, 213 hurt in Lahore suicide blasts

By Awais Saleem, IANS,

Islamabad : Three back-to-back blasts in a largely attended Shia congregation rocked Lahore, capital of Punjab province Wednesday, killing at least 28 people and injuring more than 200, an official said.

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Lahore’s Executive District Officer (Health) Fayyaz Ranjha confirmed death of 28 people in the blasts, adding that 213 injured were brought to several hospitals. SP City Faisal Gulzar said that the first two blasts were suicide hits and the nature of third blast was still uncertain.

Terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the blasts, Xinhua reported. The group was founded in 1996 in Jhang city of Punjab province.

The first blast occurred near Karbala Gamay Shah in the Lower Mall area while the second and third blasts were near Bhatti Chowk, just a few paces away. Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervez told reporters that the ages of both suicide attackers were between 15 and 18 years.

Angry mobs pelted stones at the security officials and media crews. They torched the building of the Lower Mall police station and also set two vehicles on fire.

The law and order situation worsened following the blasts. Police had to resort to aerial firing to disperse the mobs.

Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Aslam Tareen said that the first blast occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up on being intercepted by a security official.

“Contingents of paramilitary forces have been called in to control the situation”, he said.

Firing on a similar congregation in Karachi had left four people injured while several others received minor injuries in the stampede that followed.