LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck near a police team in the eastern city of Lahore Monday killing at least 26 and wounding another 54, many of them police officers. An outlawed Taliban faction claimed responsibility.
Senior police officer Haider Ashraf said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted police guarding a demolition site at Kot Lakhpat’s vegetable market on the outskirts of Lahore.
Ashraf said it was believed earlier that the bomb was in a car, but it was later discovered that the vehicle belonged to a police officer, among the eight officers killed.
He said many of 54 wounded are policemen and several bystanders were wounded by the impact of the powerful blast. Ashraf added that near the blast site a high rise building houses important information technology offices but the apparent target was the police gathering.
The outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming they used a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.
Rana Sanaullah, the home minister of eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, said anti-state elements who want to see instability in the country were behind the attack.
“No matter what name they use, these terrorists are one but they cannot demoralize the Pakistani nation,” said Sanaullah.
Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the blast occurred near the secretariat of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but that he was not in the office oat the time.
Sharif in a statement condemned the attack and called for the best possible medical service for the survivors.
The U.N. Security Council condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack” in the strongest terms and underlined the obligation of all countries to help Pakistan bring those responsible to justice. Members reiterated that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned attack in Lahore and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
“He supports the efforts of the government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and violent extremism with full respect for international human rights norms and obligations,” Haq said.
Lahore has faced scores of terror attacks in recent years. A suicide bombing earlier this year killed 16 police on a busy road while another killed over 70 people during Easter last year.
Elsewhere in Pakistan Monday, gunmen riding on a motorcycle in Karachi opened fire on traffic police officers, killing one and critically wounding another, said Rao Anwar, a senior counterterrorism police officer.
Anwar said the gunmen also snatched away a dead officer’s rifle and fired on another nearby police patrol but caused no casualties.