02-07-2010 LAHORE , PAKISTAN
Two back-to-back suicide bombings and a cracker blast killed 40 people and injured over 175 inside the crowded shrine of Hazrat Data Gunj Bukhsh here on Thursday night.
Many people were ripped apart by two bomb blasts in rapid succession. Two terrorists wearing vests packed with explosives, weighing around 20 kilograms, blew themselves up at two different places on the Darbar premises, frequented by the devotees, especially on Thursday.
The first attacker blew himself up in the basement at around 10:46 pm, while the second entered the courtyard before detonating his explosives after an interval of two minutes. The attacks took place when hundreds of devotees had gathered to pray at the Darbar, police said.
The police said both the bombers were about 20-22 years of age. A grenade shell was recovered from near the Wuzukhana of the Darbar. The blast site presented a horrifying scene with bodies and remains scattered over a 100-metre area.
The first blast ripped through the walls of the Wuzukhana in the basement and sent flames and acrid smoke through the premises. The blast also caused a fire, partially gutting goods and shattering the windowpanes and doors in the basement.
Witnesses said they heard two blasts and then thick smoke started emitting out of the Darbar. “I saw black smoke billowing out from all over the shrine,” said a man who was walking past when the explosion occurred. “The area was filled with a burning smell,” he added.
“Men, women and children were trying to run in every direction to get away,” said a devotee who had been in the courtyard when the first blast rocked the place.
“We went into the basement and found hundreds of people screaming and running in all directions. The whole basement area quickly turned into debris,” he added. An old man said the first blast occurred around 10:45 pm and he was about 300 metres away from there. “My wife and I instantly knew it was some sort of explosion. We walked away from the blast site and were taking stock of the situation when we heard another blast about two minutes later. This one was again about 300 metres away, but it felt a lot closer as we clearly felt the shockwave,” he added. The police said the bodies of the suicide attackers were torn apart.
After the incident, hundreds of people rushed to the scene to find out about their dear ones. The people were running here and there in search of their missing relatives. An elderly woman was seen madly identifying the shoes of her son from the pile of shoes at the main entrance.
Mian Sajjad Ahmad, Sajjada Nasheen (In-charge) of the Darbar, said they had been receiving threats. He regretted that inadequate security measures led to the incident. He believed that no Muslim could be involved in the said act of terrorism.
The place was the last resort for homeless and hungry people as free food was served here round the clock. Many visitors from other districts also took shelter in the Darbar especially in the basement to sleep. Charred and wrecked doors and windows and melted frames were scattered around the basement.
Edhi, Rescue 1122 and heavy contingents of police rushed to the scene for the rescue operation. Policemen cordoned off the area to prevent people from disturbing the crime scene.
The officials of the Bomb Disposal Squad collected the remains of bodies for forensic examination. Police also recovered the bodies of the suicide bombers, one from the basement and the other one from near the hall.
A traffic gridlock was observed on the main road and in adjoining localities soon after the attacks. However, afterwards various roads presented a deserted look and people preferred to stay in their homes.
The shopkeepers pulled down the shutters immediately after the explosions. Later, the locals of the area staged a protest demonstration against the attacks. The angry mob blocked the main road, burnt tyres and pelted the police with stones and bricks. The police retaliated and fired shots in the air and resorted to baton-charge on the enraged mob. The furious mob also damaged the DSNG van of a private TV channel.
The injured persons were taken to Mayo Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Services Hospital and Mian Munshi Hospital. Hospital sources said condition of 31 injured persons was precarious. The hospitals established emergency counters to facilitate the people searching for their relatives.
Meanwhile, no FIR was registered till the filing of this report. Agencies add: The president, the prime minister and various other political leaders have strongly condemned the attack.
|Liveleak on Facebook|