LAHORE The death toll rose to 11 on Thursday in the powerful suicide blast outside one of Pakistan’s oldest and most revered Sufi shrines in Lahore as another policeman succumbed to his injuries, officials said.
The attack, which occurred during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, was carried out by a teenage Taliban suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the densely-populated 11th century shrine on Wednesday.
So far, 11 people, including six police commandos, have lost their lives, Geo News reported, adding that as many as 26 others have been injured.
The powerful blast took place outside the Data Darbar shrine, the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia, where the elite police personnel were deployed for security.
A CCTV footage showed that a teenage boy wearing black ‘shalwar kameez’ and a suicide vest came closer to the vehicle of elite force and blew himself up.
“The suicide bomber is about 15 years old and made no suspected movement before blowing himself up,” Lahore police spokesperson Syed Mubashir told PTI on Wednesday.
He said that two suspects have been taken into custody.
The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JeA), a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack.
Punjab Inspector General Police Arif Nawaz told reporters that it was a suicide attack and the target was the vehicle of the elite force that was stationed outside the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajvari popularly known as Data Darbar.
The blast shattered the windows in nearby vehicles and buildings.
Wednesday was the second day of Muslim holy month of Ramazan. The Data Darbar area is thickly populated and the shrine attracts thousands of visitors every day.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the attack and directed the Punjab government to provide all assistance to the injured and families of victims. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has ordered an inquiry.
Educational institutions near the shrine have been closed for Thursday.
The shrine is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year.
In 2010, the shrine was targeted in a suicide attack that killed more than 40 people. Since then, the area has been increasingly hemmed in by heavy security, with visitors forced to pass through several layers of screening before they can enter the complex.