LAHORE         -         At least 10 people were wounded when an improvised explosive device exploded in an auto-rickshaw near Chauburji Quarters on Multan Road on Friday, police said.

Police said a man had boarded the richskaw from Sherankot, some five kms from the city, and he got off the vehicle after which the explosion occured.

Rescue workers said all the victims received minor injuries and they were immediately shifted to hospital.

The rickshaw driver and nine passersby were wounded as the bomb went off on a busy road inside the auto shortly before noon.

Rickshaw driver Ramazan told the police that the blast took place a few minutes after he dropped a passenger near Samanabad Morr. According to him, the passenger was carrying a shopping bag that he left inside the rickshaw. The driver said that he failed to notice the bag.

The 28-year-old rickshaw driver was going towards Chauburji Chowk after dropping the passenger. As he reached near the Chauburji Quarters, he parked the rickshaw on Multan Road and started urinating alongside the road when an explosion took place, all of a sudden. The blast was so powerful that it totally destroyed the rickshaw. The parts of the auto were seen scattered on the road after the explosion, which triggered panic in the commercial locality.

The provincial counterterrorism department launched investigation into the incident after registering an FIR against unidentified persons. An official said apparently an IED was used in the blast. The bomb disposal squad and forensic experts said they also seized ball-bearings from the crime scene. However, they said the forensic experts were working to determine the weight and nature of the bomb.

Heavy police contingents including senior officers reached the spot soon after the incident and cordoned off the area. A police officer said they launched a massive search operation in the entire locality to hunt down the suspected persons soon after the blast.

The injured were identified by police as Sadaf Nazeer, 35, Azeem, 18, Aleem 49, Asim 29, Ramazan, 28, Adeel, 28, and Saleem 55. Three others persons, not identified yet, were also shifted to hospital with injuries.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar took notice and ordered the provincial police officer to send back a detailed report of the terror incident. He directed the administration to provide the best healthcare facilities to the injured.

The police were investigating the terror incident with no arrest made yet.

DIG investigation Inam Waheed while talking to reporters said according to initial reports it seemed a “cylinder blast”. However, after forensic testing it became clear that the explosion occurred from explosive material, he said.

DIG Operations Ashfaq Khan also visited the site and reviewed the situation.