Six people including four soldiers of the Pakistan Army lost their lives in a suicide blast targeting a census team in Lahore’s Bedian Road area on Wednesday, a Punjab government official said.
The provincial government said 19 others were wounded in the explosion.
“This was a suicide blast, however the amount of explosives used has yet to be determined,” Punjab government spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan told Geo News.
He said out of the six people slain in the blast, two were civilians who were part of a census team.
“It can safely be assumed that this census team and the security personnel with it were the target of the suicide bomber all along,” Khan said.
An unnamed police official said the explosion was caused when a suicide bomber blew himself up near an army vehicle. However, initial reports claimed it was a cylinder blast.
Teams of enumerators backed by the military and security forces are carrying out Pakistan’s first census in almost two decades, an enormous and highly charged task that could redraw the country’s political map one year before general elections.
What we know so far
6 killed, 19 injured in blast
Explosion was a suicide blast: Punjab govt
The blast targeted a census team: official
The explosion led to a fire that engulfed the cars parked nearby. Security forces cordoned off the area and started a search operation.
The injured were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and General Hospital. Three of the injured are said to be in a critical condition.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast as yet.
Bedian road, on most days, is a bustling route, used by many to commute to areas adjacent to DHA’s Phase 5.
Brimming with fruit vendors and push-carts, Bedian Road is largely surrounded by farmland and farmhouses. The kind of shops and services available on Bedian Road are hard to find within the premises of the upscale DHA area.
‘The blast caused a lot of panic’
An eyewitness talking to DawnNews said the blast caused a lot of a panic in the area.
“When I heard the sound, I rushed out of my home on a bike. When I got here, I saw dead bodies.
He claimed that he alerted authorities “on the presence of dangerous people in my neighborhood”.
“I recommended [police]to seal this entire area and conduct a search operation. However, nobody acted on my recommendations.”
Census will be completed at any cost: COAS
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the soldiers who laid their lives in the line of duty.
“Conduct of census will be completed at any cost,” the army chief was quoted as saying in a statement released by ISPR.
He said those who lost their lives in the attack were on census duty, fulfilling a “national obligation”.
“Sacrifice of precious lives of civil enumerators and soldiers is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice,” he said.
“These sacrifices will only strengthen our resolve and with the support of entire nation we will cleanse the menace of terrorism from our soil.”
PM expresses condolences
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences on the loss of lives in the blast.
The premier paid tribute to the army personnel “who were targeted while performing their duties during the national census”.
He directed the authorities concerned to extend all requisite assistance to the provincial government.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif “strongly condemned” the incident and directed authorities to submit a report regarding the blast.
Terror incidents in Punjab
The incident follows a string of terror episodes across the country and Punjab.
The Pakistan Army launched military operation Raddul Fasaad across the country days after a terror attack near the Punjab Assembly in Lahore left at least 13 people dead and 85 others injured.
Timeline of terror incidents in Punjab following Operation Raddul Fasaad:
At least 13 killed and 85 injured when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on Lahore’s Mall Road during a protest.
Pakistan Army launches ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ across the country seeking to indiscriminately eliminate the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations.
A powerful explosion in an under-construction building in Lahore’s busy Defence Y Block Market left 10 people dead and more than 20 injured.
In a drive by-shooting incident near Lady Willingdon Hospital in Lahore, three personnel of Punjab CIA received injuries. The attackers successfully fled after the attack. All three victims were police officers posted at Ghaziabad CIA and were dressed in plain clothes. They were on their way home after performing their duty, police sources said.
In a joint search and intelligence based operation, 19 suspects were arrested in various parts of Punjab. According to the ISPR, the operation was conducted in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, Sialkot, Kasur and Lahore, under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.
The Airport Security Force (ASF) foiled a suspected terror bid at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport. Security personnel confiscated a cache of weapons and ammunition from a vehicle which had been stopped at the gates of the airport. The weapons were discovered during routine inspection. The ASF confiscated a .223 bore rifle, seven magazines, and dozens of bullets from the vehicle.
A suicide attack on census team on Bedian Road, Lahore claims the lives of four Army men and two civilians.