By Mubasher Bukhari
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani officials on Friday said a blast that killed 10 people at a shopping center in the eastern city of Lahore was most probably an accident caused by a gas leak, not a bomb, as initially described.
Panic gripped the city on Thursday after the blast at an upscale market, which also wounded 32 people.
Soon after, a burst tire in another commercial district prompted police to clear the area and rumors of another blast began to spread.
“Yesterday’s blast was not an act of terrorism,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters.
“It took place by accident. There is no evidence of explosive materials. There were gas cylinders present at the site and there is a strong possibility that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.”
Speaking to Reuters on Friday, Punjab government spokesman Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan revised his statement the previous day that the initial blast had been caused by a planted bomb.
“Confusion was caused because the evidence was buried under the rubble, but it is now clear that this was not a bomb blast,” Khan said. “It was a gas cylinder explosion.”
The injuries suffered by victims were not consistent with a bomb explosion, he added, while no militant group had claimed the blast.
Pakistan has been hit by a wave of militant attacks in recent weeks that have killed at least 130 people. One attack at a Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province killed 90 people.
(Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)