Two people were killed and scores injured in a powerful blast in Lahore's Bund area. The Punjab province capital has witnessed a series of blasts in the recent past.
At least 2 people were killed and 35 injured in a truck blast in Lahore's Bund road area today evening.
Initial reports indicate that a truck loaded with fruits got tangled with high tension wires which caused the explosion. Police suspect that the truck contained explosives. Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) personnel are on spot to conduct a search operation.
Official sources told PTI that the explosives were placed in the truck laden with fruits on the Out Fall Road - the route former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif is to take on his return to his hometown for the first time since the Panama Papers scandal verdict on July 28.
Sharif was initially scheduled to travel to Lahore from Islamabad via the famous Grand Trunk Road on Sunday, but the rally was postponed to Wednesday.
"It appears the explosive device was to target Sharif's cavalcade," the sources said, adding that Sharif is now likely to review his Wednesday's planned march through the route.
The truck was parked there for the past three days, police said citing initial reports they had received.
"It appears to be a message for Nawaz Sharif to cancel or defer his planned rally on coming Wednesday," the sources said.
The PML-N has planned a "million march" against Sharif's disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. Opposition leader Imram Khan has expressed concern over the ousted prime minister's plan to travel to Lahore with a cavalcade, terming it "a deliberate attempt to undermine the Supreme Court" and its judgement in the high-profile scandal.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Sharif's travel plans were making Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders anxious.
"Khan's is afraid of the strong solidarity that will be demonstrated by the masses for the ousted prime minister, who is now emerging as the people's prime minister," Iqbal said.
The injured were rushed to nearby Mian Munshi Hospital and Mayo Hospital, where an emergency was imposed. Due to a power breakdown following the blast, hospital authorities are facing problems in carrying out emergency operations, Dawn news reported.
Scores of vehicles parked nearby were damaged in the powerful blast. The roof of a nearby house collapsed due to the intensity of the explosion, while the windowpanes of nearby buildings were also shattered.
Police and rescue officials have cordoned off the area. "At least 35 people have been injured and admitted to hospitals. An injured minor girl is stated to be critical," he said.
DIG Haider Ashraf confirmed that it was a bomb blast and said that the blast has created a huge crater. "We have launched investigation on all aspects," he said.
Azim Hanif, an eyewitness, said he was going to the parking area when the powerful blast took place.
"Due the impact of the blast, I fell on the ground. After a couple of minutes when I gained my senses, I saw some people injured," Hanif said.
Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, has seen a string of blasts in recent days.
On July 24, at least 25 people were killed in a blast claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
In early April, a suicide attack on an army census team that killed at least six people and wounded 18 in Lahore was also claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
After a series of attacks in February, including two in Lahore that killed over 20 people, Pakistan's powerful military began a nationwide crackdown on militants.