Lahore, May 8 (IANS) At least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded when a 15-year-old suicide bomber detonated himself near a police patrol close to Pakistan’s oldest and most popular Sufi shrine in Lahore city on Wednesday.
Five police officers were among those killed in the blast near the 11th-century Data Darbar Sufi shrine, one of the largest in South Asia, as the country marks the month of Ramzan, Dawn online reported.
The attack was claimed by the Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, media reports said.
The explosion, which occurred at around 8.45 a.m., targeted an Elite Force of Punjab Police vehicle parked near the shrine’s Gate 2, the entrance for female visitors. According to Radio Pakistan, 30 people were injured in the blast.
Police spokesperson Nayab Haider said that initial investigation suggested a suicide bomber was involved.
Punjab Chief Minister’s spokesperson Shahbaz Gill said the attacker was a 15-year-old teenager. “He came out of a fruit shop, crossed over to the police van, and then detonated the bomb,” Gill was quoted as saying by Dawn.
Punjab Police chief Arif Nawaz Khan said that a security guard and civilians were also among the dead and that 7 kg of explosives were used in the attack, Geo News reported.
TV footage showed the husks of damaged vehicles littering the pavement near the shrine as first responders rushed to the scene.
The impact of the blast shattered windows in nearby vehicles and buildings.
Lahore Deputy Commissioner Saleha Saeed told the media that one of the bodies brought to a hospital was that of the suspected attacker.
Entry to the Data Darbar was sealed in the aftermath of the attack and security measures were heightened at religious sites in the city in the month of Ramzan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan “expressed grief over the loss of precious lives”.
Data Darbar was also targeted in a 2010 suicide attack that killed more than 40 people.