Deadly explosion rocks Pakistani city of Lahore

24/07/2017 - 17:33 Published in News/General

An explosion has killed at least 25 people and wounded 52 others in Pakistan's eastern city, officials said.

Monday's blast wrought carnage near the Arfa Software Technology Park on Ferozepur Road in Lahore, targeting police officials who were deployed to clear street vendors from the area, a police official said.

"There was a police picket that was targeted. We are collecting evidence, and it could be a suicide attack ... right now, we can confirm 12 people have been killed, including policemen and civilians." Haider Ashraf, a senior police official, said while speaking to media at the scene.

At least nine policemen were killed in the attack, Ashraf confirmed to the local media. 

At least 10 of the wounded were in critical condition and under treatment at Lahore's main Jinnah hospital, Riasat Ali, a hospital official, told Al Jazeera.

Police officials who were assisting in a drive to clear unauthorised construction and temporary vendors from the roadside appeared to be the target of the attack, said Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister.

A spokesman for the Punjab provincial government said authorities were trying to establish the cause of the explosion.

"Right now, our total focus is on the people and families who are facing this terrible incident. This needs to be investigated whether this is a terrorist act, or an accident, or if something has exploded," said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan's interior minister, at a press conference in Islamabad.

Television footage showed a vehicle badly damaged by the blast, and dozens of police officials cordoning off the area, as well as ambulances at the scene.

The Arfa Software Technology Park is a seventeen-storey IT building. 

A witness, who was in the building at the time of the explosion, told Al Jazeera that she heard a loud noise and saw smoke coming out of a van.

"A car was completely totaled," she said on the phone. "I saw dead bodies on the ground and there were cracks on the glass building.  

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that response teams were quick to arrive at the scene, with ambulances and police reporting within the first six minutes. 

In April, at least six people were killed when a vehicle carrying government census workers was targeted by a suicide attack in Lahore.

In February, at least 13 people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted police posted at a protest demonstration in the heart of Lahore.

In 2016, Lahore suffered one of Pakistan's deadliest assaults when a suicide attack in a park killed more than 70 people, including many children.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group, which claimed that attack, said it was targeting members of Pakistan's Christian minority who had gathered there to celebrate Easter Sunday.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies