- 'The blast caused a lot of panic'
- COAS pays tribute to slain soldiers
- PM expresses condolences
- Terror incidents in Punjab
Six people, including four Army soldiers and an off-duty Air Force airman, lost their lives after a suicide bomber targeted a census team in Lahore's Bedian Road area on Wednesday morning.
At least 19 others were injured in the attack, according to the provincial government.
The injured were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and General Hospital. At least three of the injured were said to be in critical condition. One, identified as Lance Naik Irshad, lost his life while undergoing treatment.
The proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in a statement said: "The soldiers and civil enumerators who embraced shahadat today [...] were on census duty [...] a national obligation. [This] is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice."
He added that "[The] census will be completed at any cost."
The explosion was the result of a suicide bomber blowing himself up near an army vehicle, an unnamed police official told Reuters.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while speaking to Samaa, confirmed it as a terrorist incident.
"There was a threat alert, and in the last 10 days the threat alert in Lahore was repeated," he said, explaining that when an alert is issued repeatedly, it is considered "serious".
"But in the case of suicide attacks, unless the intelligence [agencies] have prior information, it is difficult to prevent them from happening," Sanaullah said.
Bedian Road, on most days, is a bustling route, used by many to commute to areas adjacent to DHA's upscale Phase 5 neighbourhood. Brimming with fruit vendors and push-carts, it is largely surrounded by farmland and farmhouses.
'The blast caused a lot of panic'
An eyewitness talking to DawnNews said the blast caused a lot of a panic in the area.
"When I heard the sound, I rushed out of my home on a bike. When I got here, I saw dead bodies.
He claimed that he had earlier alerted authorities "on the presence of dangerous people in my neighborhood".
"I recommended [police] to seal this entire area and conduct a search operation. However, nobody acted on my recommendations."
COAS pays tribute to slain soldiers
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty, according to an ISPR statement.
"Sacrifice of precious lives of civil enumerators and soldiers is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice," he said.
"These sacrifices will only strengthen our resolve and with the support of entire nation we will cleanse the menace of terrorism from our soil."
Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Mohammad Sadiq Ali visited the injured at CMH and said he was proud of the men who laid down their lives in the blast.
He also said the operation against terrorists will continue across the country.
PM expresses condolences
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences on the loss of lives in the blast.
The premier paid tribute to the army personnel "who were targeted while performing their duties during the national census".
He directed the authorities concerned to extend all requisite assistance to the provincial government.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif "strongly condemned" the incident and directed authorities to submit a report regarding the blast.
Terror incidents in Punjab
The incident follows a string of terror episodes across the country and Punjab.
The Pakistan Army launched military operation Raddul Fasaad across the country days after a terror attack near the Punjab Assembly in Lahore left at least 13 people dead and 85 others injured.
Timeline of terror incidents in Punjab following Operation Raddul Fasaad:
At least 13 killed and 85 injured when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on Lahore's Mall Road during a protest.
Pakistan Army launches 'Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad' across the country seeking to indiscriminately eliminate the "residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating the gains made in other military operations.
A powerful explosion in an under-construction building in Lahore's busy Defence Y Block Market left 10 people dead and more than 20 injured.
In a drive by-shooting incident near Lady Willingdon Hospital in Lahore, three personnel of Punjab CIA received injuries. The attackers successfully fled after the attack. All three victims were police officers posted at Ghaziabad CIA and were dressed in plain clothes. They were on their way home after performing their duty, police sources said.
In a joint search and intelligence based operation, 19 suspects were arrested in various parts of Punjab. According to the ISPR, the operation was conducted in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, Sialkot, Kasur and Lahore, under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.
The Airport Security Force (ASF) foiled a suspected terror bid at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. Security personnel confiscated a cache of weapons and ammunition from a vehicle which had been stopped at the gates of the airport. The weapons were discovered during routine inspection. The ASF confiscated a .223 bore rifle, seven magazines, and dozens of bullets from the vehicle.
A suicide attack on census team on Bedian Road, Lahore claims the lives of five armed forces personnel and two civilians.