Three suicide bombers targeted a religious procession in Lahore on Wednesday, killing at least 37 people and wounding 200, Aaj news reported.
It was the first major attack in Pakistan since devastating floods engulfed a fifth of the country over the past month in the country’s worst-ever disaster.
The string of blasts ripped through the crowd at the moment of the breaking of fast in the ongoing holy month of Ramazan, and led to an outpouring of fury as mourners tried to torch a nearby police station.
Police fired tear gas shells to force back the surging crowd.
“The mourning process had just ended when I heard three deafening explosions after brief intervals,” Shahid Hussain, a mourner, said with tears rolling down his cheeks.
People cried and beat their heads and chests at the site of the attacks, chanting slogans against the police and provincial government over their failure to protect the mourners, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.
Injured people lay on the ground crying for help amid the remnants of the crowd, while ambulances drove in and out taking away the scores of wounded.
“Twenty-five people were killed and over 180 others wounded in the three suicide attacks,” a senior local administration official, Sajjad Bhutta, told AFP.
“We have collected bodies of all the three bombers,” he said, adding they were still collecting evidence from the site.
He admitted there may have been a lapse in security.
A local rescue official, Fahim Jehanzeb, also confirmed the death toll.
Top local administration official Khusro Pervez told reporters in Lahore: “The first blast took place immediately after the mourning procession ended, followed by the other two.”
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attacks and described them as “cowardly acts of terrorism”.
“Those elements playing with the lives of innocent people would not escape the law of the land,” an official statement quoted him as saying in Islamabad.