Pakistan: At least 10 people, including five policemen, have been killed in blast outside Lahore’s Data Darbar, confirmed Punjab’s police chief. Another 20 people were injured.
The blast occurred near a vehicle of the Elite Force parked near Gate Number 2 at 8:40am local time on Wednesday. There were five people in the van — four policemen and one driver. The driver was not in the van at the time of the blast. Other cars nearby were also damaged in the blast.
Punjab IG Arif Nawaz has confirmed that the police were “100%” targeted in the attack. The attacker could have hit another side (of the Data Darbar) but chose to approach the police van stationed there, he told the media outside the shrine. The police are stationed there round the clock as part of routine security, he said. He said a 7kg bomb was used.
CCTV of the attack was released by local media which shows the alleged suicide bomber, who appears to be in his late teens and wearing all black clothing, exploding next to the vehicle of police. Local security officials and media also claimed the young man in black is the suspected suicide bomber. However, this information is based on initial reports. A closer examination of the video by ITCT Newsdesk raises doubts that this man was the suicide bomber.
CCTV footage of Lahore suicide attack. #Pakistan
— F. Jeffery (@Natsecjeff) May 8, 2019
The attack has been claimed by terrorist group Hizbul Ahrar in a statement released by its official Al-Ahrar media on Telegram.
In its statement, Hizbul Ahrar goes to explain that the attack was carried out when there was no public around security officials. Hizbul Ahrar also claimed that the attack killed officials of an intelligence agency along with police officials. Hizbul Ahrar concludes its statement saying the attack was part of its ‘Operation Shamzai’ and such attacks will continue in Pakistan.
Hizbul Ahrar later also released a poster carrying photos of the five security personnel who were killed in the attack.
Most of the victims were taken Mayo Hospital, where an emergency has been imposed. Nine of the injured are in critical condition. Rescue teams say some passers-by were injured in the blast as well. The police have not confirmed how many policemen were deployed outside Data Darbar.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly denounced the blast and sought a report from the authorities, Radio Pakistan reported.
U.S. embassy in Islamabad also condemned the attack in a statement.
The United States strongly condemns today’s attack in #Lahore. Such cowardly attacks stand in stark contrast to the peaceful spirit of Ramadan, and we send our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. #LahoreBlast #DataDarbar #DatadarbarBlast pic.twitter.com/51ZfvzsGMI
— U.S. Embassy Islamabad (@usembislamabad) May 8, 2019
The attack occurred near the entrance gate for female visitors to Data Darbar, one of the largest Sufi shrines built in the 11th century in South Asia.
The shrine has been targeted in 2010 by a suicide attack that killed more than 40 people, and since then is guarded by heavy security.
This story will be updated in case of new information.