BOMB explosion in school van kills seven people, including children

Saturday, August 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ A powerful bomb ripped through a school van in the eastern Punjab province Saturday, killing at least seven people, including three children, and wounding seven others, police said.

The bomb, operating by timer, was hidden in the van, which was parked outside a private school in Gujrat, and went off just minutes after the school day finished, senior police superintedent Mohammed Riaz told The Associated Press.

The explosion, which destroyed the van, shattered glass and caused panic in the entire neighborhood, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast _ the deadliest this year.

Five of the victims belonged to the same family, Riaz said. They were Mohammed Anwar, a government employee, his wife and three sons _ aged between eight to 13 years old.

The other two victims have not yet been identified.

At least seven people, mostly children, have been hospitalized, said Saeed Talat, a doctor at the state-run Gujrat Hospital. At least two of them are in critical condition, he said.

Soon after the explosion, the police cordoned off the school, located in a congested neighborhood in the city, 78 miles north of Lahore, the Punjab's capital.

``We are searching vehicles and blocked all the exit points of the city,'' Riaz said by telephone. ``It is the most brutal act of terrorism. We are trying to arrest the culprits, who appear to be well-trained terrorists.''

In recent years, there has been a series of bomb explosions in Pakistan, killing and wounding scores of people.

Since August 2000, at least 69 people, many of them children, have been killed and more than 420 others wounded. On some days more than one bomb exploded.

Pakistan mostly blames neighboring India, its longtime rival, for carrying out acts of sabotage. India denies the charge and accuses Pakistan of fomenting violence in its troubled Kashmir region. Islamabad also rejects the Indian allegation.