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26 killed in suicide blast near Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif’s residence in Lahore

At least 26 people were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber near the home of chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in Pakistan’s Lahore city.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2017 21:45 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Lahore blast,Arfa Kareem Tower
Pakistani security officials inspect a destroyed vehicle after suicide bombing in Lahore on July 24, 2017. The explosion killed 26 people and injured nearly 60 more in the eastern Pakistani city. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. (AFP)

A Taliban suicide attacker targeted a police team near the residence of Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday, killing 26 people and injuring nearly 60 more, officials said.

Police officials said the bomber, who was on a motorcycle, detonated his explosives near policemen deployed at Kot Lakhpat vegetable market, located about 100 metres from the residence-cum-office of Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Lahore police chief Amin Wains confirmed it was a suicide blast.

Nine policemen, including two officers, were among the dead. Twenty people were killed instantly and six more died in hospital.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. “Fida Hussain Swati - a member of our suicide squad - today attacked the infidels on a motorcycle,” TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said in a statement.

“Our message to the frontline allies of infidels is not to come in our way as we will impose Allah’s system on this land,” he added.

Pakistani rescue workers prepare to remove a body from the site of a suicide bombing in Lahore on July 24, 2017. Pakistani officials said the suicide bombing killed 26 people and wounded nearly 60 more at a vegetable market in Kot Lakhpat neighbourhood. (AP)

Shahbaz Sharif was in a meeting at his home in Model Town area when the explosion occurred at 3.55 pm at the busy market near the Arfa Karim Software Technology Park, officials said.

Punjab government spokesperson Malik Ahmed Awan said the policemen were guarding officials of the local anti-encroachment department who were conducting an operation against illegal structures in the area . A fire erupted at the spot after the explosion, and glass panes of nearby buildings were blown out.

Local media described the area as one of the most protected neighbourhoods of Lahore, with several layers of security around the chief minister’s residence in Model Town.

A rescue worker walks amid the crime scene after a suicide blast in Lahore, Pakistan, on July 24, 2017. (Reuters)

Bomb blasts by militants are common in Pakistan, especially in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but attacks in Lahore have become less frequent recently.

Lahore, a city of around six million people, is Pakistan’s cultural hub and the capital of its most populous and prosperous province of Punjab.

First Published: Jul 24, 2017 17:30 IST