New Delhi:A powerful bomb blast outside a famous Sufi shrine in Lahore killed four and wounded several others, Pakistani police told news agency Associated Press on Wednesday. Security forces guarding Data Darbar, one of the largest shrines in South Asia, are among those feared dead.
Lahore police chief Ghazanfar Ali said police officers were the apparent target of bombing outside the shrine. He said hundreds of pilgrims were inside and outside the shrine when the blast took place. TV footage showed a badly damaged police vehicle that authorities said was the target.
The shrine has been targeted previously, in a 2010 suicide attack that killed more than 40 people, and is guarded by heavy security.
Sufi worshippers, who follow a mystical strain of Islam, have frequently been the target of bloody attacks by Islamist terrorists including the Islamic State group in Pakistan.Terrorist Islamists see visits to Sufi shrines and some rituals at the graves of Muslim saints as un-Islamic.Police in the eastern city confirmed that a blast had taken place but did not immediately give a toll. PTV aired footage showing damaged vehicles and emergency personnel on the scene.
A local police official, Muhammad Kashif, said the blast may have been “a suicide attack targeting security officials’ vehicle”.
“We are trying to get more details from the site,” he added.A second police official who spoke on condition of anonymity also said that a security vehicle had been targeted in the blast. Pakistan’s push against extremism was stepped up after the country’s deadliest ever attack, an assault on a school in Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead — mostly children.
“The blast took place close to the Data Darbar, one of the largest shrines in South Asia, and several people including police officers had been wounded,” Punjab province police spokesman Nayab Haider told Reuters.