Suicide bombing at Pakistan protest kills at least 13
Photo: Police and security officers cordon off the site of a bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. The attack was claimed by a group that split from the Pakistani Taliban in 2014 to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. (K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press)
By Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain
February 13 at 2:15 PM
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide bomber killed at least 13 people and injured scores Monday in the eastern city of Lahore, detonating a powerful blast on a crowded boulevard outside the provincial legislature, where hundreds of pharmacists and drug company officials were holding a peaceful protest.
Two senior police officials and four other police officers were among those killed when the bomb exploded at the edge of the rally, officials said. TV footage showed flames rising and people fleeing in panic, while ambulances, police vehicles and Pakistan Army Ranger trucks rushed to the area.
Police said that in addition to the dead, 80 people were injured.
“Thank God I am alive,” Zahid Sherwani, a reporter for Pakistan’s Geo News TV channel, said in a broadcast from the scene, where he and other journalists had gone to cover the sit-in rally. “I was very, very close.”
Officials said they had been warned by the federal counterterrorism agency last Tuesday that a suicide attack might occur in Lahore, prompting extra precautions. The protest, over new amendments to a drug-sales law and a shortage of licensed pharmacists, was held in an area often used for demonstrations, just outside the Punjab Assembly gates, and it did not appear to be specifically targeted.
“The spot where the blast took place is always under threat,” Rana Sanaullah, the law minister for Punjab province, told reporters. He said that “elaborate security arrangements” had been put in place but that the rally “gave the opportunity to terrorists to strike.”
Last week, a group headed by the radical Islamist cleric Hafiz Mohammad Saeed held a large antigovernment protest on the same boulevard in Lahore, as well as rallies in other cities, after authorities placed Saeed under house arrest. Other Islamist groups have denounced the government for the crackdown and called for further protests.
[Pakistan’s Kashmir Solidarity Day co-opted by supporters of detained Muslim cleric]
Saeed was accused of masterminding a terrorist siege in 2008 in Mumbai that killed 166 people. He has been detained several times since then but has never been tried or convicted. On Monday, a spokesman for his group condemned the Lahore attack and called its perpetrators “terrorists” and enemies of Islam and Pakistan.
However, a different Islamist group emailed a statement to media outlets, praising the bombing and indirectly claiming it. The message from Jamaat-ul-Ahrar named both the two slain senior police officials and the attacker, whom it called a martyr and “our beloved brother.”
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar broke away from the Pakistani Taliban in 2014 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. In its statement Monday, it called the Lahore attack “just the start” of a coming operation and added, “We warn all Pakistani apostate departments that they are our targets,” a reference to government agencies.
The outlawed group claimed a bombing near a church at a Lahore park on Easter last March that killed 75 people, and another in the southwestern city of Quetta in August that killed 70; the latter blast was also claimed by the Islamic State.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed both sorrow and defiance in a statement Monday, praising the dead police officers and vowing to continue the fight against terrorism, which has killed thousands across Pakistan in the past decade.
Lahore is at once the heart of Sharif’s provincial political base and the home of several radical and sectarian Islamist parties. Provincial political leaders have been accused of appeasing some religious groups while trying to control others.
“Terrorism isn’t a novelty for us. Our story has been one of constant struggle against its grasp, and a fight for the soul of Pakistan,” Sharif said. “We have fought this fight against the terrorists among us and will continue to fight it until we liberate our people of this cancer.”
Sharif’s government and its predecessors have sought to curb Islamic militancy with mixed success. The army has made strides against domestic jihadist groups, but some remain popular among the Muslim public, while critics including India and the United States say that Pakistan continues to harbor violent militants who target neighboring countries.
Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.
Pakistan: 16 killed, 53 hurt as suicide bomber hits Mall Road in Lahore
world Updated: Feb 13, 2017 23:26 IST
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Lahore bomb blast: Photo:
Pakistani policemen and volunteers move the bodies of victims at the site of a bomb explosion in Lahore on February 13, 2017.(AFP Photo)
At least 16 people were killed and 53 more injured when a suspected suicide bomber set off his explosives during a protest outside the Punjab Assembly on the main thoroughfare of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday evening.
The blast occurred as a large number of chemists and pharmaceutical manufacturers were staging a demonstration against a new drug control act on the Mall Road, where several key government buildings are located. It was not clear if the protest was the target of the blast.
The media reported that the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Lahore’s traffic police chief Ahmad Mobin and two other senior police officials were among the dead, authorities said.
Drone camera footage aired on Samaa TV channel showed a powerful blast shortly after a man approached a group of protesters on the Mall Road. “Apparently it was a suicide blast, but police are still investigating to know the exact nature of the blast,” Punjab police spokesperson Nayab Haider told local media.
The blast shattered windows of nearby buildings and some cars caught fire. Ambulances and fire tenders rushed to the scene as contingents of soldiers and paramilitary Pakistan Rangers were deployed. The injured were taken to Mayo Hospital and Ganga Ram Hospital.
An Easter Day bombing in Lahore last year killed more than 70 people in a public park. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had also claimed responsibility for that attack.
Elsewhere in Pakistan, a roadside bomb killed two members of bomb disposal squad on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta, said police officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema. Another eight people were wounded, he said. A Taliban-linked group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, said it planted the bomb.
(With AP input)
February 13, 2017
Protests make Lahore’s “red zone” more at risk than it already is
Photo: Lahore : Police and security officers cordon off the area of a deadly bombing, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Pakistani police say a large bomb has struck a protest rally in the eastern city of Lahore, killing many people and wounding others. A local police official said the blast occurred when a man on a motorcycle rammed into the crowd of hundreds of pharmacists, who were protesting new amendments to a law governing drug sales. AP/PTI(AP2_13_2017_000232B)
CM strongly condemns blast on Mall Road
14 killed, over 100 wounded in Lahore blast
7 hours ago
BY Samiullah Randhawa
Police and rescue workers work at the scene of a blast in Lahore, Pakistan February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer
Jamaat-ur-Ahrar claims responsibility for attack
Dead include DIG Traffic Ahmed Mobin, SSP Operations Zahid Gondal
Punjab govt announces one-day mourning, national flag to fly at half-mast
At least 14 people, including DIG Traffic Ahmed Mobeen, were killed and over 100 wounded in a deadly suicide bombing outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday, policemen and rescuers said.
The bomber, who came on a motorbike, detonated his suicide vest next to a DSNG van at Charing Cross on Lahore’s Mall Road at around 6:10 pm targeting the site of a protest, where negotiations were going on between protesting pharmacists and DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (r) Ahmad Mobin, police officials said.
Among the other dead were SSP Operations Zahid Gondal, DSP Pervez Butt, AAJ TV cameraman Abdur Rehman and two traffic wardens.
JAMAAT-UR-AHRAR CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY
A spokesperson for Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed the responsibility for the attack on social media. The group had also claimed the responsibility for an Easter Day bombing in Lahore last year that killed more than 70 people in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.
The outfit, in its post on social media, stated a member of theirs, Nasrullah alias Zabihullah, had perpetrated the crime. The statement read that the attack was one of the initial actions in the upcoming Operation Ghazi that they had earlier claimed they would be starting in the country.
They warned officials of “Pakistan’s infidel institutions” that they would be targeted. The operation is named after Maulana Abdul Ghazi, who was killed in the Lal Masjid Operation of 2007.
IG Mushtaq Sukhera, who visited the blast site, confirmed it was a suicide bombing. Sukhera told reporters that the suicide attacker blew himself up when the DIG Traffic’s gunman tried to stop him from advancing.
“The bomber came on a motorbike and detonated his suicide vest (while the protesting pharmacists were dancing after their successful negotiations with the DIG Traffic),” said Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ameen Waince, adding that the martyred police officials had succeeded in convincing the demonstrators to call off their protest and disperse peacefully.
“We came along with the SSP (Operations). He directed us to stay near the police vans while he himself walked to the other side the road, where DIG Mubin was already negotiating with the protestors. The time SSP Zahid Sahib approached them, there was a huge explosion,” said a sub-inspector Pakistan Today talked to.
NACTA’S THREAT ALERT
Although security on Mall Road had been heightened in view of the protest of the Punjab Medical Stores’ Association and the Chemists and Druggists’ Association against the new drug act, the provincial metropolis had been on the list of an unidentified terrorist group according to an intelligence report released by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) on February 7.
Immediately after the blast, rescue officials reached the crime spot – where a significant number of law enforcers had already been present due to the protest – and ferried the injured to Sir Ganga Ram and Mayo hospitals, where the condition of more than 20 injured was stated to be critical. An emergency was declared in all hospitals across Lahore in view of the huge number of wounded.
TWO SUSPECTS ARRESTED
Two suspects were arrested from the blast site after contingents of army and Rangers were called in and a security cordon was thrown around Charing Cross. The inner cordon was taken over by army personnel, while the outer one by the paramilitary Rangers and police.
Interestingly, one of the arrested men stated that he was an actor and had worked with a prominent film director Syed Noor. But, police arrested him and later transported him to an undisclosed location.
The explosion was so powerful that it rocked the entire area and was heard even five kilometers away. The windowpanes of nearby buildings were shattered and the DSNG van of AAJ TV, the bomber had struck close to, completely wrecked. Two more DSNG vans were partially damaged.
An eyewitness told this scribe that he saw a person coming on a bike and running towards the police officials who were busy in negotiating with the protestors. “Protestors were cheering, singing and dancing as if their demands were met,” he said, adding the protestors were about to disperse when the bomber struck.
Another witness said that after the bombing, participants of the protest were dispersed, fearing another blast.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has announced one-day mourning in respect of the victims of yesterday’s bombing. The national flag will also fly at half-mast. The Punjab government has already imposed Section-144 in Lahore.
PM, COAS CONDEMN BOMBING
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the attacks would not weaken Pakistan’s resolve in fight against militancy.
“We have fought this fight against the terrorists among us, and will continue to fight it until we liberate our people of this cancer, and avenge those who have laid down their lives for us,” the premier said in a statement.
He directed the Punjab government to provide all possible assistance to the injured.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa also condemned the blast, and ordered the security forces and secret agencies to cooperate with Lahore Police.
DG Punjab Rangers Major General Naveed Azhar also visited the blast site.
Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif also condemned the bomb blast, and ordered to ramp up security in Punjab in a hurriedly-called meeting with senior police officials.
February 13, 2017
Pakistan: At least 13 dead, several injured in blast in Pakistan’s Lahore
TNN & Agencies
Updated: Feb 13, 2017, 10.49 PM IST
Suicide bomb explodes on mall road in Lahore - multiple dead including top policemen
The blast occurred during a protest by drug-chemist association members outside Punjab Assembly.
DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin was killed in the attack along with SSP Gondal of Punjab Police.
Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast occurred during a protest by drug-chemist association members outside Punjab Assembly. (Photo: ANI)The blast occurred during a protest by drug-chemist association members outside Punjab Assembly. (Photo: ANI)
NEW DELHI: At least sixteen people, including two top cops, were killed and several others injured in an explosion on Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a protest rally outside the Punjab Assembly building in eastern Pakistan, police officials said.
Lahore Traffic Police chief capt (R) Mobeen Ahmed and Senior Superintendent Police Lahore Zahid Gondal were killed in the blast that targeted police personnel.
"Deputy Inspector General and Lahore police chief Mobeen Ahmed has been killed in the blast," Lahore police chief Amin Wains said.
He, however, did not confirm about other casualties. "I can confirm the death of Ahmed at the moment," Wains said.
DIG Ahmed had survived an attempt to his life during his posting in Balochistan.
A Lahore police officer said that apparently it was a suicide attack and the bomber targeted the police personnel present there. "The target was not the protest demonstration but the police officers," he added.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanullah confirmed that it was suicide blast and ’some police officers’ have been killed.
"The chemists were protesting against the controversial drug regulations the government has recently imposed when a powerful blast took place. Several protesters were lying on the road before the rescuers shifted them," said Ishtiaq Ahmed, a representative of the Lahore Chemist Association.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. The group had also claimed responsibility for an Easter Day bombing in Lahore last year that killed more than 70 people in a public park.