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 mobile of the Elite Force parked near Gate Number 2 at 8:40am 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.
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.
They have sealed the area and are evacuating the shrine. They have begun collecting evidence at the scene. Crime scene teams are at the scene, as is the bomb disposal squad. The police are recording the statements of witnesses and the van’s driver. The driver told SAMAA TV he went to an ATM to withdraw money at the time of the blast.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has ordered an investigation into the blast and has cancelled his trip to Sargodha, Bhakkar and Sheikhupura. He was in Bhakkar and is on his way back to Lahore. He has summoned an emergency security meeting.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of the incident and called for a report.
The police have not officially confirmed the nature of the blast (whether it was a suicide attack or planted device). The operations DIG has requested people to stop speculating, saying investigations are not based on speculations. Police officials will address a media briefing shortly.
The blast took place around 200 to 300 metres from the actual entrance to the shrine.
CM Buzdar addressed the media outside the Data Darbar at noon and said the death toll has now risen to 10. Twenty people have been injured, he confirmed. An inquiry has been ordered and we will follow the SOPs in the investigation, he said.
He assured that the injured would be provided complete treatment and that compensation would be provided to everyone involved. There was no specific threat here, he said, denying reports that police officials were late to the scene.
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