LAHORE, Pakistan: At least nine people including five police officials were killed and 20 injured in a blast outside the Data Darbar shrine on Wednesday morning.
Inspector General Punjab Police Captain (retd) Arif Nawaz Khan confirmed the attack targetted the police force and said five police officials died in the blast. A security guard and civilians were also among the dead. Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) said 20 people injured in the blast were being treated at a local hospital. Some of the injured were in critical condition.
Authorities have confirmed that three Elite Force officials were among the officers killed in the blast. The Punjab health department has imposed an emergency at hospitals in the provincial capital.
Police have not officially confirmed whether it was a suicide attack or planted device. However, police sources confirmed the blast took place around 8:45am outside Gate 2, where the police personnel were deployed for security. The powerful impact of the blast shattered glasses of nearby vehicles and buildings. Entry to the Data Darbar was sealed after the blast and the visitors were evacuated as police started an initial investigation into the incident.
Built in the 11th century, Data Darbar is one of the largest Sufi shrines in South Asia. Thousands of people visit the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajveri commonly known as Data Sahib. The shrine is located inside the ancient Walled City in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-biggest city. In 2010, 40 people were killed in two suicide blasts at the shrine.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of the incident and called for a report of the incident. Punjab Chief Minister has called off his visit to different cities of the province and summoned a high-level security meeting.