Friday, July 2, 2010

Pakistan blasts kill 37

Pakistan volunteers remove the bodies from a shrine of the Saint Syd Ali bin Osman Al-Hajvery, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh following suicide bomb attacks in Lahore. -- PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE (Pakistan) - TWIN suicide blasts killed at least 37 people on Thursday and injured scores more at a crowded shrine to an Islamic saint in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, a city official said.

'At least 37 people were killed and 175 injured' in two suicide attacks at a complex housing the tomb of a Sufi saint, Lahore city police chief Aslam Tareen told AFP.

Another senior city police official, Chaudhry Shafiq also confirmed two suicide attacks and said one bomber blew himself up in the courtyard while the second one detonated his explosive vest in the basement of the shrine. A senior investigating officer told AFP that the bomber in the basement set off his vest after he was intercepted by a group of worshippers.

He said that both the bombers were aged 17-22 years, adding that police were combing the scene for more detailed forensic clues. Thousands of people were at the shrine dedicated to Hazrat Syed Ali bin Usman Hajweri, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, at the time of the attacks on Thursday night.

'There were at least 2,000 to 2,500 people present in the shrine when the twin attacks took place,' caretaker of the shrine, Mian Mohammad Munir said. He said the blasts occurred within minutes, triggering panic among people, who ran in different directions.

Television channels aired live pictures from the scene of the carnage, showing people crying and beating their chests and heads. Bystanders helped ambulance crews load the wounded into vehicles before they were rushed to hospital. People were seen hugging each other as police cordoned off the area to prevent any further attack. -- AFP

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