- High-intensity explosion damaged windows of nearby buildings
- Punjab IG says Counter Terrorism Department will conduct investigation
- Confirms blast took place near residence of Hafiz Saeed
(Karachi) At least three people were killed and 21 injured after a bomb blast rocked Lahore's Johar Town area on Wednesday, Aaj TV reported.
The injured, which include women and children, were shifted to Jinnah Hospital for treatment with 7 people reportedly being in critical condition, according to officials.
Rescue officials said the blast took place in E block near Ahsan Mumtaz Hospital, and damaged windows of nearby buildings while the sound was heard in areas far away from the incident as well.
Initial reports suggested that at least three vehicles were damaged. Ball-bearings were also reported to have been found, as details around the nature of the blast were revealed.
Talking to reporters, Jinnah Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Yahya Sultan said seven of those admitted to the hospital were in critical condition with "ball bearing and blast injuries". He added that the injured included two women, one of whom was pregnant and had to be put on a ventilator.
Police and law enforcement personnel reached the site of the incident and begun a preliminary investigation. Initial reports had suggested the cause of the explosion was not yet clear, and officials were ascertaining the reason.
Speaking to Geo News, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar stated officials could not comment on whether the blast was targeting someone without carrying out an investigation.
However, later, Inspector General of Police Punjab, Inam Ghani, stated that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has taken over the investigation.
"The CTD will determine whether the blast was suicide or a planted device was used," said Ghani, addressing reporters after the incident. "Several threat alerts were received, and clearly, external elements want to harm Pakistan."
When asked to comment, Ghani, who visited the area a couple of hours after the incident, told reporters that the explosion took place near the residence of proscribed Jamatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.
“As far as the question of residence of a high-value target is concerned, a police picket (post) was established there," he said, adding that police were guarding Saeed's house at the time of the attack, resulting in injuries to some officials.
"We should appreciate the police as anti-state elements failed to reach the target. They want to demoralise the police but they should know that our morale is high."
In a tweet later, Ghani said the CTD Punjab is investigating the "unfortunate terrorist act", and would ensure a professional investigation out the clamour of the media. "This way we will be able to stop exposing the progress to the terrorist".
Earlier, Lahore Deputy Commissioner Mudassir Riaz Malik directed the relevant assistant commissioner and officials from Sui gas and the Lahore Electric Supply Company to reach the site of the incident.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has also taken notice of the blast and directed the province's top police official to submit a report on the incident.
Buzdar also instructed the concerned authorities to provide the best possible medical treatment to the injured.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said it was important to probe the reason for the blast to establish context, and find possible leads.
This is a developing story, and will be updated accordingly.