Lahore mourns triple bombing as death toll rises
LAHORE: The death toll from suicide attacks that targeted a busy procession in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore rose to 31 on Thursday as six people succumbed to their injuries, officials said.
Three suicide bombers targeted a Shia mourning procession made up of thousands of people on Wednesday at the moment of the breaking of the fast in the holy month of Ramazan, wounding hundreds.
It was the first major attack in Pakistan since devastating floods engulfed a fifth of the volatile country over the past month in its worst disaster yet.
“Thirty-one people have died and a total of 281 were injured,” Fahim Jehanzeb, a spokesman for Lahore’s rescue agency told AFP, adding that he feared more would die from their injuries.
Sajjad Bhutta, a senior local administration official, also confirmed the new death toll.
A mass funeral was hastily arranged for later in the day with police and paramilitary providing tight security, while local authorities announced a day of mourning with all public and private institutions closed.
An AFP reporter said that all markets were closed and the roads were quiet on Thursday, after the attacks provoked an outpouring of fury in the city a night earlier, with mourners trying to torch a nearby police station.
Police fired tear gas to force back the surging crowd as furious mourners beat the bodies of the suicide bombers with sticks and shoes, while others beat their own heads and chests at the site of the attacks in frustration.
The emotional crowd chanted slogans against the police and the provincial government over their failure to protect the Shia procession, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.
Lahore, a city of eight million, has been increasingly subject to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks in a nationwide bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,600 people in three years.
The procession hit by the blasts was being held to mark the anniversary of the martyrdom of Hazarat Ali, who is revered by Shia Muslims and is the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed.
Shias account for around 20 per cent of Pakistan’s mostly Sunni Muslim population of 160 million.
Religious violence in Pakistan, mostly between Sunni and Shiite groups, has killed more than 4,000 people in the past decade, and it is not the first time Lahore has seen bombers target religious gatherings. – AFP
If you want to follow news on your mobile, click on http://dawn.com/mobile/ and download Pakistan’s first mobile news application. Currently this application is for Nokia phones only