LAHORE – A strong explosion in a truck at a parking stand on Outfall Road on Monday evening has left one person dead and more than 45 others injured, authorities said on Tuesday.
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The powerful blast damaged, partially or heavily, more than 100 vehicles, such as cars, mini-trucks and motorcycles parked at the stand.
Soon after the blast that occurred at around 8:50pm, the Bomb Disposal Squad, Crime Scene Unit, CTD, forensics experts and other police personnel also rushed to the scene. They cordoned off the area and started collecting crime scene evidence. Rangers joined in the efforts to maintain order.
According to Rescue 1122 officials, the powerful explosion left a 10 to 15 feet crater on the spot.
Windowpanes of a nearby building were also shattered while the roof of a school building in the vicinity also collapsed due to the blast.
A large number of people in the area came out on the roads after the explosion late on Monday. The blast was heard in several areas of the city in the radius of four to five kilometres of the site. The high voltage wires (132kV) from Saggian Grid Station were also damaged leaving the area in darkness.
The initial investigation suggested that the truck was carrying crates of apricots being transported from Swat to the city. The truck had been at the stand for the last three days.
Authorities have yet to ascertain the exact route of the truck from Swat to Lahore.
Police said a huge cache of explosives had been stored in the truck. They were trying to assess the exact weight of the explosives.
The injured were taken to Services and Mian Munshi hospitals from where 12 of them were discharged after first aid.
Four people suffering life-threatening injuries were admitted to the Mayo Hospital.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and sought a report from Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains. He also directed the authorities to investigate the incident.
Some officials said they feared that the explosives-laden truck might have been arranged to target the caravan of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was earlier scheduled to arrive in the city on Sunday from Islamabad. His rally would have passed by the point as per the earlier plan.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Yasmin Rashid, who is also a candidate to contest election from NA-120 after the seat fell vacant due to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification, has demanded implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) in Punjab to curb attacks.
Haider Ashraf, deputy police inspector general, estimated that the detonation could have been accidental considering that the extremist target was to bring the explosives to the city center, where about six million people live.
Shortly after the blast, police shot down four alleged members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan during a clash in Lahore, said a statement from the Counter-Terrorism Department.
Lahore is one of the cities hardest hit by attacks by armed groups in the country, especially the Taliban.
On July 24, a suicide bomber killed 26 people and wounded more than 50 in a market in Ferozepur area. In April, six others were killed in a similar action.
In February, 14 more died in an attack on a team that was part of the national census campaign.