Thirty-five killed in blast at Lahore shrine


Prime VIP
Three suicide bombers struck in quick succession at a famous Sufi shrine in Lahore on Thursday night, killing 35 people and injuring 175 others, officials said. One attacker blew himself up at the crowded entrance to the shrine and the second in the basement, where people perform ablutions before entering the complex. The third bomber detonated his explosive vest in a part of the shrine adjoining a busy market, witnesses said.

Thirty-five people were killed and 175 injured in the blasts, Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervez told reporters. Twenty-five of the injured were in a serious condition, he said. District administration chief Sajjad Bhutta said all three blasts were carried out by suicide bombers. Several women and children were among the dead and injured in the blasts, officials said. The explosions, which occurred within minutes of each other shortly after 2300 hrs, created panic among thousands of worshippers, who ran helter-skelter. The shrine attracts large crowds every Thursday night with people visiting the complex to offer special prayers.

The police cordoned off the area as rescue workers ferried the bodies and injured to nearby hospitals. Footage on television showed debris, shoes and blood strewn across the floor of the shrine. Some shocked worshippers wept and consoled each other while others stood in the courtyard of the shrine and prayed. The blast in the basement caused the most damage as the shock waves were intensified by the confined space. The explosion completely smashed the ceiling and ripped through a large number of people who were performing ablutions in the basement. Police have sent some fragments for forensic tests.

Officials said the suicide vests were packed with over 10 kg of explosives and ball bearings. Data Darbar is the shrine of Syed Abul Hassan bin Usman bin Ali al-Hajweri, who is considered the patron saint of Lahore. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Taliban have opposed the practice of people visiting the shrines of Sufi saints.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blasts at the Data Darbar shrine. In a message Zardari said such acts of terrorism cannot dent the government's resolve to fight the menace of terrorism and militancy to the end.

"Targeting the sacred shrine which has sentimental value for Muslims all over the country clearly reflects that terrorists have no consideration for any religion, faith or belief. "These terrorists neither respect human values nor care for human lives, and their brutal act is a manifestation of their evil designs," Gilani said in a message. Gilani said his government is committed to eradicateterrorism at all costs. Such cowardly acts indicate that terrorists, after their defeat in other areas, are resorting to attacks on innocent citizens in cities, he said.