QUETTA/LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR - At least nine people and three terrorists were killed in four blasts in four major cities of the country on Thursday.
The blasts came a day after Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud criticised the government for not being able to take concrete step towards peace talks.
Eight people were killed in Quetta while three terrorists were killed in Karachi as the explosives they were carrying went off before they could hit the target. Peshawar blast injured three Levies personnel.
The Lahore blast in a restaurant killed a youth and injured 16 other people. The bomb ripped through the famous Old Anarkali food street on The Mall late Thursday morning, almost three months after a similar bomb struck the same bazaar.
“The blast killed a youth while 16 injured were shifted to Mayo and Sir Ganga Ram hospitals,” said Jam Sajjad Hussain, a spokesperson for the Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122). A woman beggar was also among the injured, he said.
Three of the injured were reported to be critical till Thursday night.
No group had claimed the responsibility for the attack till late Thursday night. Police said a time device stashed in a shopping bag was detonated beneath a chair outside Sindhi Biryani restaurant, a food outlet famous for breakfast varieties.
“Part of the restaurant was damaged and the windows of the nearby shops were shattered,” said eyewitness Muhammad Tariq.
Bomb Disposal Squad officials said that at least 1.5-kg explosives were used in the time-device that was detonated at about 11:35am.
Lahore DIG (Operations) Muhammad Tahir Rai told reporters at the crime scene that the bomb used in Thursday’s bomb was similar to the IED (improvised explosive device) used in July 6, 2013.
The freely accessible food street having no special security arrangements is always swarmed by people.
“We had no specific intelligence before the attack,” claimed a police officer, when contacted. In the past, the Taliban militants had carried out a string of deadly attacks in the capital of Punjab.
Forty-two people were also wounded in Quetta blast in Liaquat Bazaar. The explosion occurred when the bazaar was buzzing with Eid shoppers. The banned Baloch United Army claimed responsibility for the bombing.
According to Quetta Commissioner Captain (r) Usman Gul, the explosive device, planted on a bicycle parked in front of the City Police Station, was detonated remotely. It went off with a huge bang, killing eight people, including a policeman, and wounding 42 others.
The blast was so powerful that it damaged several vehicles, rickshaws, motorbikes and shops. “A truck of Balochistan Constabulary parked along the roadside also caught fire in the explosion,” a police official said, adding that one of the dead included a police official, who was performing his duties outside the City Police Station.
According to the Bomb Disposal Squad, up to 10 kilos of explosive material was used in the blast. Speaking from an unspecified location over satellite phone to the media, a spokesperson for Baloch United Army, Murid Baloch, said, “Our target was the police station and that the attack was in reaction against disallowing international aid to earthquake-hit areas of Balochistan.”
In Karachi blast that went awry, three terrorists were killed when they were heading towards the target near Manghopir area.
Police suspected the terrorists wanted to park the explosives-attached bikes at a certain place, but were themselves killed in the premature explosion.
The blast with a huge bang drew public and police to Manghopir Road, where they found three charred bodies.
According to Bomb Disposal Squad, the bombs carried six to eight kilogrammes of explosive material, ball bearings and nails.
A senior police official said two of the terrorists were identified as Rafiullah and Asmarullah of Qilla Abdullah area of Balochistan, based on identity cards and mobile phones recovered from the site.
In Peshawar, at least three personnel of Levies were injured, when a remote-controlled device targeted their vehicle at ring road in Achine area.