Blast kills at least 10, injures 71 in Pakistan’s Lahore

Agence France-Presse
Blast kills at least 10, injures 71 in Pakistan’s Lahore


(UPDATED) The incident occurs as hundreds of chemists protested a new law near the Punjab provincial assembly building

LAHORE, Pakistan (UPDATED) – At least 10 people were killed and 71 injured when an apparent Taliban suicide blast ripped through a protest in Pakistan’s Lahore on Monday, February 13, officials said, shattering the city’s growing sense of security.

Police cordoned off the area near the crowded Mall Road, one of the city’s main arteries, as witnesses fled amid fears of a second explosion, with images of the injured being carried away shown by local media. 

The road had been crowded with hundreds of people, mainly chemists, protesting provincial government plans to further regulate the medical sector. 

“The blast was so powerful. I saw the injured and bodies, saw flames surrounding the blast site, people were crying,” witness Muhammad Tariq told the Agence France-Presse. 

Rescue official Deeba Shahnaz said at least 10 people had died in the explosion, while some 71 other wounded people had been rushed to city hospitals, in figures confirmed by hospital sources.

The attack “seems to be a suicide blast,” senior police official Amin Wains said, adding it had apparently targeted police trying to regulate the protest.

“Police at the scene have told me that apparently it’s a suicide blast, we are investigating,” Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister, told AFP.

The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar swiftly claimed responsibility for the blast, which came three days after it announced it would carry out a series of attacks on government installations around the country.

A spokesman for the group warned in an statement that Monday’s blast was “just the start”.

Lahore, the country’s cultural capital, suffered one of Pakistan’s deadliest attacks during 2016, a Jamaat-ul-Ahrar suicide bomb in a park over Easter that killed more than 70 – including many children.

But such incidents have been rare in the teeming city in recent years, with security across Pakistan improving dramatically in 2015 and 2016 after the military launched a crackdown on extremism backed by a government-led National Action Plan.

Last month a Taliban-claimed bomb blast at a market in a mainly Shiite area of Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt killed at least 24 people, the first major militant attack in the country in 2017.

Cricket fans on social media quickly voiced fears Monday’s explosion could derail plans to hold the highly-anticipated final of the Pakistan Super League in Lahore.

The second year of the Twenty20 tournament is currently being held in the United Arab Emirates out of security fears, though officials had hoped the final could take place in the cricket-mad city. –

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