Death toll rises to 11 in attack claimed by Pakistan Taliban faction
Pakistani security officials stand guard outside the shrine of Data Ganj Bauksh, a day after a suicide bomb attack that targeted a Police vehicle in Lahore, Pakistan, May 9, 2019. EPA-EFE/RAHAT DAR
Islamabad, May 9 (efe-epa).- Pakistan authorities on Thursday increased the toll to 11 dead and 28 injured in a suicide attack targeting police close to a popular Sufi Muslim shrine in the eastern city of Lahore, which was claimed by a faction of the Taliban.
The blast occurred on Wednesday at around 8.45am local time at the entrance to Data Darbar shrine and was claimed by the insurgent group Hizbul Ahrar.
“A police officer, Sadam Hussain, succumbed to his injuries today and the death toll reached 11. His funeral was held at Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh in Lahore," regional Health Ministry spokesperson Hamad Raza told EFE.
Six police officers were among the fatalities in the blast near the shrine, one of the largest in South Asia.
Raza added that funerals of four other officers were held yesterday at the same administrative center in Lahore and were later "sent to their native towns," and funerals for others were also held the same day in Lahore.
In addition, funeral services for another three victims were held Thursday in the central city of Multan.
"At the moment the 28 injured are in the Lahore Mayo hospital, out of which 27 are stable and one is in critical condition," said Raza.
Abdul Aziz Yousafzai, a spokesperson for the militant group, said in a statement that “a suicide bomber of Hizbul Ahrar with the help of God targeted the Elite Force personnel at the gate number 2 of the Data Darbar."
The faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed to have killed 12 policemen and wounded another 20 in the attack, carried out "at a time when there were no civilians near the police."
The shrine, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of Muslims each year, was also the site of twin suicide blasts in 2010, which left dozens of people dead.
Sunni fundamentalist organizations and the Pakistani Taliban movement have on several occasions carried out attacks on congregations of Sufis, who seek a mystical interpretation of Islam removed from fundamentalism.
Terrorism-related violence has decreased significantly in Pakistan since the army launched an operation in the northwestern tribal regions in Jun. 2014, which was later extended to the rest of the country.
Around 3,500 alleged terrorists were killed in the anti-terror operation, according to figures provided by the army, which however were not independently verified.