Powerful blast hits Sufi shrine Data Darbar in Lahore, several feared dead (Photo: Twitter)
Atleast nine people were killed and several injured following a powerful blast outside Data Darbar, a popular Sufi shrine, in Pakistan’s Lahore on Wednesday. According to Pakistani daily ‘Dawn’, the area has been cordoned off and rescue operations are underway. No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The nature of the blast or the chemical used in the explosion are yet to be ascertained. DawnNewsTV said that DIG Operations Lahore is reaching the site and will also meet the injured admitted in a nearby hospital. Early reports suggest that the blast was especially targeted at the van of ‘Elite’ police force team. Heavy contingents of Punjab Police have reached the blast site. As per initial reports, a vehicle of the police, deployed at gate no 2 of the Data Darbar was targeted, resulting in death of four people and injuries to other 15 people. The Geo News reported that 'three police officials were killed martyred in Lahore blast.’ The report also said that nearly 20 people were injured in the blast.
The bodies and injured were moved to Mayo and General hospitals of the city, some of the patients are said to be critical. Data Darbar shrine has emerged a major economic, political, and social centre in Lahore. The shrine was greatly expanded in the 1980s under the rule of military dictator Zia ul-Haq, during which time the shrine became the largest in South Asia.
Nine years ago, in July 2010, Data darbar shrine was targeted by two suicide bombers. 42 people were killed in the attacks. Thousands of people visit the shrine at the time, officials say. It holds the remains of a Persian Sufi saint, Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery. The shrine is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year from both Sunni and Shia traditions of Islam. The 2010 attack was the biggest on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan since militant attacks began in 2001. In 2009, gunmen attacked three security facilities in Lahore, leaving 28 dead. Laster in December in same year, two bombs killed 48 at a market in the city.