Srinagar: At least nine people — five policemen and three civilians — were killed and 26 others injured in what officials described as a suicide bombing targeting an Elite Force van detailed to the security of the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore on Wednesday.
The blast took place at 8:45 am in the proximity of the police mobile, which was parked near Gate 2 of Data Darbar, one of the country’s most visited shrines, Dawn reported.
Police officials said they suspect the blast was a suicide attack and that the police mobile was the target.
An initial probe has revealed that the bomb contained seven kilograms of explosive material.
King Edward Medical University Vice-Chancellor Professor Khalid Gondal said the death toll had risen to nine, while the condition of four of the injured is critical. Some of the wounded have also been admitted to Mayo Hospital, where an emergency has been imposed.
He added that seven bodies were at Mayo Hospital while two were at the morgue in King Edward Medical University.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz confirmed that five Elite Force personnel were killed in the blast.
He told reporters that the attack “100 percent targeted police”, noting that police are posted near the shrine around the clock to provide security.
The IGP said the attacker could have caused more damage because of the direction he had approached from, but he made a beeline for the police car stationed in the area for protection of the shrine.
A rescue operation was conducted in the area before it was cordoned off for investigation. The shrine was evacuated, with devotees moved out through exits away from the blast site. Entry to Data Darbar has since been restricted.
A heavy contingent of police, Counter-Terrorism Department and forensic officials are collecting evidence from the site of the attack. The IGP said police will share their findings once they conclude their probe.
All regional police officers and city police officers have been directed to examine security in their respective areas and remain alert during the month of Ramazan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the loss of lives in the attack, expressing grief and condoling with the victims’ families for their loss.
According to the DIG Operations Lahore, 306 police officials in the city have so far lost their lives in the line of duty. (Dawn)