A powerful suicide blast outside a Sufi shrine in Lahore killed ten, including five policemen, and wounded at least 25 others, Pakistani police Wednesday said. Reports from local media suggest the blast took place at around 8.45 am outside Gate 2 of Data Darbar, a famous shrine in Punjab province.
Punjab Inspector General Police Arif Nawaz told reporters that it was a suicide attack. “The target of the suicide bomber was the vehicle of the Elite Force that was stationed outside the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajvari commonly known as Data Darbar,” Nawaz said.
He said the suicide bomber came closer to the police personnel vehicle and blew himself up, killing five of them and injuring other four critically. One security guard and two citizens are among the dead, he said.
A Pakistani Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the blast.
“This attack was carried out at a time when there were no civilians near the police,” said Abdul Aziz Yousafzai, spokesman for the Hizbul Ahrar militant group, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban.
Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja said that the death toll may rise as some of the injured’s condition is critical.
Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent Yar Muhammad put the death toll to nine. “We have received nine persons, including policemen dead. The condition of six injured is critical and doctors are trying their best to save their lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly denounced the blast outside Data Darbar in Lahore and sought a report from the authorities, Radio Pakistan reported.
The premier has commiserated with the bereaved families and directed authorities concerned to provide best possible medical treatment to those injured in the blast.
Entry to the Data Darbar was sealed in the aftermath of the blast. The shrine is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. In 2010, the shrine was targeted in a suicide attack that killed more than 40 people, and is guarded by heavy security.
With Reuters and PTI inputs