Wednesday Apr 05, 2017
LAHORE: At least six people were martyred and 15 others wounded Wednesday morning when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in Lahore's Bedian Road, officials said.
Malik Ahmed Khan, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, confirmed the explosion to be a suicide attack. “The target seems to have been the census team and the soldiers accompanying them," he told Geo News.
Khan confirmed that four military personnel were martyred in the bombing, and at least 15 people were wounded.
"The chief minister Punjab has called an emergency meeting of all security personnel,” said the spokesperson, “The Inspector General Police and the provincial intelligence representatives will be attending."
Speaking exclusively to Geo.TV, a spokesperson of the Punjab police, Nayab Haider said they suspect "the suicide bomber was on foot. He came from behind the vehicles and detonated his vest."
Further details, he added, would be released when the Counter Terrorism Department completes its investigation report.
The funeral prayers of the four martyred army personnel were offered at Ayub Stadium in Lahore.
Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and Governor Punjab Rafique Rajwana also attended the prayers.
Lieutenant General Lahore Sadiq Ali was also present.
The case has been registered of the incident at the CTD station on behalf of the Lahore police.
The FIR nominates two facilitators along with the suicide bomber.
Pakistani security officials collect evidence from the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a census team in Lahore – AFP
Television footage from Bedian Road showed two charred vehicles and a damaged motorcycle.
"I was standing at a distance of a hundred steps from the incident," said an eyewitness, "I called 1122 [Emergency Ambulance Service] which reached the site after 20 minutes."
For now, the area has been cordoned off by security personnel for the collection of evidence.
The injured driver of one of the vans was later taken into custody for investigation from the hospital, sources said. The driver was identified as Usman. The driver said that the engine of the van started making noises, following which he went to buy an engine part for the vehicle. However, as he left the vehicle, the blast occurred.
The Punjab government spokesperson admitted that the province had been receiving reports of a possible terror attack. "We were informed of a high-level security threat on March 29 but the target was unclear."
Khan refused to speculate on who could be behind the bombing, but added that its severity shared commonalities with previous incidents in Lahore.
Separately, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said security concerns would remain in the city until hideouts of the banned Jamaatul Ahrar are eliminated. "Ahrar has claimed some of the bombings in Lahore," Sanaullah said, further adding that the perpetrators of Wednesday's attack would be identified soon.
The minister also expressed concern over the presence of militant hideouts in Afghanistan, since terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been traced back to its Nangarhar area. He vowed that terrorism would be exterminated from the country and the census process would be completed at all costs.
A Pakistani forensic team arrives at the scene of a suicide bomb attack on a census team in Lahore – AFP
Those behind the Bedian Road attack will not go unpunished, said Corps Commander Lieutenant General Sadiq Ali during his visit to the Combined Military Hospital, to inquire after the health of the injured, "Indiscriminate operation against terrorists will continue."
The deceased lost their lives, he added, while doing their national duty.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad-based Pakistan Bureau of Statistics promised to continue the data collection process as per schedule.
"The census will not be affected by the terrorist attack in Lahore," read a statement issued by the Bureau, adding that the attack was aimed at spreading fear amongst the enumerators and other staff members.
At least six people were martyred in a blast that targeted a census team in Punjab's provincial capital, Lahore, on April 5, 2017.Posted by Geo News English on Wednesday, April 5, 2017
President Mamnoon Hussain has condemned the blast in Lahore and issued orders to provide necessary assistance to those affected. "All national projects including census activities will be conducted as per schedule,” he announced.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also expressed his deepest condolences over the loss of precious human lives and paid rich tributes to the Pakistan Army personnel who were targeted while performing their duties.
The Interior Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in a statement, expressed grief at the terror attack.
While, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), called the PPP the "heir of all those who were martyred in the incident."
"An exceptional strategy is indispensable to defeat anti-state elements," Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan said in a statement condemning the blast. "Partial implementation of the National Action Plan will prove deadly."
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid rich tribute to the Pakistan Army personnel and civilians martyred in the suicide bombing targeting a census team in Lahore.
Calling the census exercise a national obligation, the Army Chief said the loss of precious lives of the civil enumerators and soldiers is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice.
"The census will be completed at any cost. These sacrifices will only strengthen our resolve and with the support of the entire nation we will cleanse the menace of terrorism from our soil," Gen Bajwa vowed.
Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar called Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Cheif Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.
According to a statement issued on the meeting, the respective representatives discussed civil-military cooperation against terrorism.
It further said that the interior minister expressed his concern by saying that it must be taken into notice that despite receiving prior intelligence how come this unfortunate incident took place.
Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar called for expedition of actions under Operation Raddul Fasaad and better civil-military coordination on matters of national security.