Taliban deny responsibility for deadly Lahore bombings
The Pakistani Taliban said on Friday that it was not responsible for Thursday’s suicide attack on the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine in the eastern city of Lahore. The twin bombing at the shrine to a Sufi saint killed at least 43 people and injured 175 others, 100 of whom are reported to be in critical condition.
“We are not responsible for these attacks, this is a conspiracy by foreign secret agencies, you know we do not attack public places,” Azam Tariq, a spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, told the AFP news agency.
The first explosion occurred in the basement and the second in front of the main building. It is thought the two bombers entered the building and detonated themselves three minutes apart.
Despite surveillance cameras, walkthrough gates and metal detectors, the bombers managed to strike in a large congregation of people. There were also volunteers and police searching visitors.
Investigators have already found the remains of the bombers. Ball-bearings and other material used in the blasts had been collected, according to the Dawn newspaper.
“Terrorists have no consideration for any religion, faith or belief,” said Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. “Their brutal act is manifestation of their evil designs.”
Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that it knocked a number of people to the floor, with some injured as panic triggered a stampede.
Bomb disposal teams estimate that around 10 to 15 kilograms of explosives was used in each suicide vest.
Afterwards crowds gathered outside the shrine to protest against the attacks. Some reports say they caused minor damage to public and private property.
Lahore has been the scene of increasing violence in recent times, with more than 260 people killed in nine attacks since March last year. The city is considered liberal in its attitudes, while Sufism is considered by some radical groups as un-Islamic.