Lahore blast: Five police officers among 9 killed in explosion outside Sufi shrine, 24 injured

Lahore: Five police officials and four civilians died and 24 others injured in a bomb blast near Data Darbar in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, DIG Operations Lahore Ashfaq Ahmed Khan confirmed.

According to initial police reports, the explosion, near Gate no. 2 of Data Darbar, was targeted at a police vehicle. The nature of the explosion has not been ascertained yet.

SP (City) Syed Ghazanfar Shah said that the condition of eight of those injured was critical. The wounded have been shifted to the Mayo Hospital.

The area was cordoned off and a heavy contingent of the police has been deployed there.

‘The target was police’

State TV showed pictures of badly-damaged patrol cars. “It was an attack on police that left several dead and dozens of policemen and civilians injured. The target was police,” said Syed Mubashir Hussain, a spokesman for the Lahore police.

Muhammad Farooq, a spokesman for the city’s rescue services, said a rescue operation “is under way and we have moved 15 people to hospital.”

Authorities have stepped up the security measures since the country’s worst terrorist attack killed more than 150 people at a school in Peshawar in 2014. However, extremist groups are still able to conduct deadly attacks. Lahore has witnessed several attacks in recent years, including a bomb targeting Christians celebrating Easter in 2016. More than 70 people were killed.

Data Darbar is burial site of the saint Ali Hajveri

Built in the 11th century, the Data Darbar is the burial site of the saint Ali Hajveri and is one of the largest Sufi shrines in South Asia. Tens of thousands of pilrims visit the site each spring on the anniversary of the saint’s death. It was hit by a suicide attack in 2010 that left over 40 people dead. Since then, it has had a heavy security presence.

Sufism is a mystical form of Islam. Its followers have frequently been targeted by militants, who view rituals at the graves of Muslim saints as “un-Islamic.”