At least 26 people, including nine policemen, were killed while 58 others were injured in a bombing attack near the Arfa Karim IT Tower on Lahore's Ferozepur Road on Monday afternoon.
Lahore's DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said that the blast, which occurred at around 3:55pm, was a "suicide attack" and that “police were the target”. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility, stating that a "suicide attacker" had used a motorcycle bomb to target police officials.
A CTD spokesperson confirmed that nine policemen were killed in the blast. The injured included at least six policemen.
Rescue 1122 teams shifted the injured to nearby hospitals, where an emergency had been imposed.
Punjab government spokesperson Malik Mohammad Ahmed said the attack had occurred at an old vegetable market in the Kot Lakhpat neighbourhood in Lahore. The area is a busy locality and the office of the Punjab chief minister is located nearby.
Another police officer, Kashif Aslam, said the bombing targeted policemen who were providing security for the Lahore Development Authority, which was involved in demolition work targetting encroachments nearby. Anti-riot police had been deployed for the activity.
Police and other law enforcement personnel had reached the site of the incident soon after the bombing and cordoned off the area. Forensics teams had also collected evidence from the blast site to determine the nature of the explosion.
Condolences pour in
Condolences poured in following the blast. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and others expressed their grief over the loss of lives in the attack.
Lahore has been targetted by terrorists in recent months.
Another blast, targeting a census team in April, had resulted in the deaths of six people, including five forces personnel.
A suicide blast on February 13 had ripped through a camp of protesting chemists in front of the Punjab Assembly, leaving 13 people dead and 70 others wounded.
Last year, in a terrorist attack in Iqbal Park targeting those celebrating Easter, 72 people had died and over 300 had been injured.
Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while talking to the media after Monday's attack, said that the incumbent government has overcome the menace of terrorism by "70 to 80 per cent".
"We have started an operation against terrorist organisations and the situation is much better as compared to what it was in 2011-12," Sanaullah added.
Scenes from the attack