Lahore, February 13 (Herald Tribune): At least 10 people including Traffic Deputy Inspector General of Police G Ahmed Mobin were killed and at least 53 others injured in an explosion near the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday.
The incident occurred as hundreds of chemists were protesting nearby against a new regulatory law, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said.
A spokesperson for Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The group previously claimed responsibility for the March 2016 Easter bombing at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, which killed over 70 people
DSP Pervez Butt, SSP East Zahid Nawaz Gondal are also among those killed.
Up to 400 people had attended the protest, according to an AFP reporter who was on the scene when the explosion occurred. “Suddenly there was a bang and a huge blast,” he said. “Everybody ran for safety.”
“It was apparently a suicide blast, but the police are still investigating to determine the exact nature of blast,” Punjab Police spokesperson Nayab Haider said.
Police cordoned the blast site, while rescue workers moved the injured to nearby hospitals.
Pakistan Super League
Social media users were quick to suggest that the blast was meant to derail plans to hold the highly-anticipated final of the Pakistan Super League in Lahore.
The second edition of the annual T20 tournament – like the first – is ongoing in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns, but after the recent military crackdown on extremism, officials were confident enough to pick Gaddafi Stadium to host the final.
Political and military leaders including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army chief General Qamar Bajwa, and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah condemned the incident.
“We will continue this fight against terrorists among us and will continue to fight it until we liberate our people of this cancer and avenge those who have laid down their lives for us,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. “We will not stop until we can call ourselves a free and secure people. That is a promise.”
Meanwhile, according to the Inter Service Public Relations, the army chief instructed the local commander and intelligence agencies to provide all necessary assistance to the civil administration in evacuating the injured and apprehending those responsible for the incident.
Meanwhile, schools in the provincial capital will remain closed on Tuesday, All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association announced in a statement.