LAHORE - Customs department officials yesterday thrashed two passengers at the Lahore airport over an argument, sources in the Airport Security Force said.

The brawl, which took place during small hours of Tuesday, created panic at Allama Iqbal International Airport as many people were present there to welcome international passengers.

The victims said that they were tortured by customs officials when they refused to bribe them. On the other hand, the officials claimed that they were demanding tax not bribe.

Sources said that two passengers, Zubair Hussain and Nasarullah, landed at the Lahore airport on an Airblue flight (451) from Muscat late Monday night. The brawl broke out between the passengers and customs officials over the clearance of luggage.

The ASP staff and customs officials brutally tortured Zubair Hussain and Nasarullah.

According to the passengers, they brought an LCD from Muscat for personal use but the officials were demanding bribe to get it cleared. As both the passengers argued with the officials they started thrashing and punching them. Customs officers Abbas Hussain and Muhammad Habib denied the allegations. They told reporters that they were demanding tax and not bribe from the passengers.

The airport security force and customs officials gave a good thrash to the passengers in the presence of senior staff members. Authorities did not announce any official inquiry to probe into the incident yet.

The complaints of torture against airport officials are not rare in Lahore. International and local passengers are routinely roughed up by airport staff and customs officials in the name of checking at the airport.