PM orders Punjab govt to provide all support to victims of blast which targeting elite force vehicle
LAHORE: Ten persons, including five police personnel, embraced martyrdom while thirty others injured in a blast outside Data Darbar in Lahore suicide bombing targeting an Elite Force van detailed to the security of the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore on Wednesday.
King Edward Medical University Vice Chancellor Professor Khalid Gondal said the death toll has risen to nine (including a suspected attacker), 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.
Prof Gondal added that seven bodies had been shifted to Mayo Hospital while two are at the morgue in King Edward Medical University. Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Arif Nawaz confirmed that five Elite Force personnel were martyred in the blast. At 8:45am this morning, an explosion took place in the proximity of a police mobile parked near Data Darbar’s Gate 2, the entrance for female visitors to the shrine.
The impact of the blast shattered the windows in nearby vehicles and buildings, bystanders told Media. Police officials believe the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
The Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson, Shahbaz Gill, told reporters that the attacker was a 15-year-old boy.
The teenager came out of a fruit shop, crossed over to the police van, and then detonated the bomb, Gill said.
An initial probe has revealed that the bomb contained seven kilograms of explosive material.
Television footage showed the husks of damaged vehicles littering the pavement near the shrine as first responders rushed to the scene, while security forces fanned out to launch a search operation and secure the area.
Police set up checkpoints on main thoroughfares leading to the shrine and hospitals have been placed on alert, officials told Reuters.
The shrine was immediately evacuated, with devotees moved out through exits away from the blast site. Entry to Data Darbar has since been restricted. The site of the attack was cordoned off for rescue efforts and investigation.
A heavy contingent of police, Counter-Terrorism Department and forensic officials collected evidence from the site of the attack.
The IGP said police would share their findings once they conclude their probe.
All regional police officers and city police officers have been directed to examine security arrangements in their respective areas and remain alert during the month of Ramazan.
Officials believe that today’s attack highlights a need for vigilance by people gathering for worship during Ramazan.
“People should remain aware of their surroundings when going to pray,” suggested Punjab provincial minister Mian Aslam. A pair of suicide attacks at the popular 11th century Sufi shrine in 2010 killed and wounded dozens of people. Since then, the area has been increasingly hemmed in by heavy security, with visitors forced to pass through several layers of screening before they can enter the complex. IGP Arif Nawaz, while addressing a press conference, said that police are posted near the shrine around the clock to provide security.
He said that authorities had maintained a general security alert, but there had been no specific warning about a threat to the shrine. The IGP said the attacker could have caused more damage because of the direction he had approached from, but he instead made a beeline for the police car stationed in the area for protection of the shrine.— Staff Reporter