A SUICIDE blast near the Gaddafi stadium where an ODI between Pakistan and Zimbabwe was being played claimed the life of a policeman who stopped the bomber from targeting the cricketing venue.
The suicide bomber blew himself up while riding a rickshaw at 9 PM, less than a kilometre away from the ground.
Four people were rushed to a nearby hospital where sub-inspector Abdul Majid was pronounced dead.
Soon after the blast, the Pakistan Cricket Board issued a statement, saying it was a “power transformer blast” that was caused by malfunctioning.
Police cordoned off the area and no one including the media was allowed to enter the blast site. Senior police officials kept denying that it was a suicide blast.
“The gas cylinder fixed in the auto rickshaw was exploded. Forensic samples had been collected from the site to determine the nature of the explosion,” Lahore police chief Amin Wains told reporters.
He said it would be premature to say that it was a “suicide attack”.
However, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told Geo News, “An attempt to attack the Gaddafi Stadium was foiled by the gallantry of a police official, who lost his life while trying to stop the attacker near Kalma Chowk.”
He praised the actions of Pakistan Broadcasters Association for “covering up” the news while the cricket match was underway.
More than 20,000 people were inside the stadium and panic could have caused stampede, Rashid said.
Earlier reports said the policeman and a civilian were among those killed but later it emerged that the only the sub-inspector and the bomber had died in the explosion.
Local media had at first reported an explosion close to the Gaddafi stadium but later took the news off air after it was claimed that the blast was caused by an electricity transformer in the area.
International cricket returned to Pakistan after a six-year absence last week amidst fanfare at a sold-out Gaddafi Stadium for the first Twenty20 international between the hosts and Zimbabwe.
The Punjab government has given “presidential” security to the touring Zimbabwe cricket team to ensure that no terror incident takes place during the tour.
This is the first tour of any international cricket team in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team by Taliban militants in March 2009 in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk near the Gaddafi Stadium in which six members of the visiting team were injured.