LAHORE: At least 26 people have been martyred in a suicide attack in the Ferozepur area of the provincial capital on Monday afternoon, confirmed DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf
Speaking to the media, DIG Operations confirmed nine policemen were martyred in the blast and the suicide bomber was on a motorcycle.
58 people were also injured in the explosion. Many of the injured are said to be in critical condition.
Ashraf further said a police picket was targeted in the attack. â€œWe are collecting evidence and this could be a suicide bombing. The death toll includes police and civilians.â€
Police sources said a suicide attacker targetted police personnel deployed at the site, the news agency reported .
The explosion took place near the Arfa Karim IT Tower. Several motorcycles and at least one vehicle were destroyed in the explosion.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, addressing a press conference, said terrorism can not be ruled out as the motive behind the explosion. He added that security forces are conducting their investigations.
Sanaullah further said that the government has started a security operation against terror organisations and the situation is much better when compared to 2011-12.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed that an anti-encroachment drive was being conducted at the time explosion. Anti-riot police personnel were deployed at the spot among others.
Rescue and relief efforts underway
The area was cordoned off by a heavy contingent of security forces and the section of the road leading towards Lahore was sealed. Forensic experts are conducting investigation in to the attack.
The injured were shifted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and Ittefaq Hospital. Several of the injured are in critical condition, as reported by the news agency. Police personnel are also among those injured.
An emergency was imposed in the city’s hospitals.
Identity of those killed in the explosion has not yet been ascertained as of yet.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the blast. He directed authorities to provide all possible medical assistance to wounded of the suicide attack.
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has condemned the blast and has directed the Army to provide immediate relief and rescue. Army troops have also reached the site.
Chief Minister Punjab has condemned the attack and has expressed sympathies with injured and the families of those killed.
Ferozepur road links Lahore to Kasur and is a busy thoroughfare. Lahore’s Metro Bus also passes through this route.
Earlier in April, six people were martyred and 15 others wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in Lahore’s Bedian Road.
In February, a suicide bomber martyred 14 people, including senior police officers, when a suicide bomber hit close to the Punjab Assembly in Lahore when hundreds of demonstrators had gathered for a protest