Sunday December 05, 2021

Panic grips Lahore after blast

By Ali Raza
July 25, 2017

LAHORE: Panic gripped the provincial metropolis soon after a suicide blast targeted police personnel and citizens near the house of prime minister in Model Town on Ferozpur Road.

The incident sent cold shivers among the citizens, especially those working or present in the adjacent 14-storeyed Arfa Karim Tower and they started rushing out from the building while many of them recorded the immediate post-blast moments from different floors of this building in their cell phones and cameras.

Traffic on the Ferozpur Road, one of the main roads of the city, came to a standstill while security measures had been intensified at all the important buildings near the blast site such as Arfa Karim Tower, Children’s Hospital, SOS Village, Ittefaq Hospital, Gulab Devi Hospital, etc.

Police personnel also blocked all the roads leading to the house of PM Nawaz Sharif and his other family members, including Hamza Shahbaz, who lives a block away from PM’s residence. No vehicle was allowed to enter Model Town from the Ferozpur Road as a preventive measure.

Following the blast, traffic was blocked on one side of the Ferozpur Road and long queues of vehicles were seen lining up till Lahore General Hospital and on Walton Road till Bab-e-Pakistan. Traffic coming towards Ferozpur Road from other roads was also diverted. District administration, including its head, deputy commissioner Lahore, also reached the spot and said that investigations were under way to determine the nature of the blast. He said demolition process of empty buildings in old vegetable market was in progress and police, including anti-riot squads, were accompanying the demolition teams to avoid any untoward incident.

Following the traffic jams and diversions on the Ferozpur Road, several other connecting roads such as Peco Road, Model Town Link Road, Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, Barkat Market, Jail Road and Walton Road also witnessed traffic jams and rush.

I was working on my computer when the blast occurred and shocked the whole building, said Marian, an employee of a government office situated in Arfa Karim Tower. She said the impact of the blast was very intense and windowpanes of several offices in the tower smashed and cracked.

“The blast took place just below our office and I saw many bodies lying on the Ferozpur Road and towards the market, an overturned rickshaw and several motorbikes,” she said, adding that the targeted policemen were sitting together and having their meal.

“I found ball bearings and pieces of metal in the backyard parking of Arfa Karim Tower, which clearly showed the high intensity of the blast,” said Faisal, a visitor of a public office in Arfa Karim Tower. He said he was walking towards the parking lot when the blast occurred and he hid himself between the parked cars.

Other than Arfa Karim Tower, security of several other multi-storeyed buildings was beefed up such as Emporium Mall, Packages Mall, Siddique Trade Centre and many others. Soon after the news of the suicide blast was aired on electronic media, almost all big markets in the city, especially those which were in close vicinity of the incident like Model Town Link Road, Faisal Town, Barkat Market where business activity usually took momentum in the evening became deserted.

“I was shopping at Model Town Link Road when I got a call from my husband who directed me to immediately come home as a suicide blast has occurred nearby,” said Bushra, a resident of Faisal Town. She said she also saw several other people especially female shoppers leaving the market after hearing the same news.

After the blast, a large number of citizens also started inquiring about their relatives and friends on social media while many people who were present near the spot and recorded video clips in their mobile phones also started sharing clips and pictures of the incident.