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Death toll rises to 12 in Lahore Sufi shrine suicide attack

Press Trust of India  |  Lahore 

The death toll in the suicide attack targeting one of Pakistan's oldest and most revered Sufi shrines in Lahore rose to 12 on Friday as a police commando succumbed to his injures.

Ten people, including five police personnel, were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Data Darbar shrine, the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia on Wednesday morning as the country marks the fasting month of Ramzan.

Elite force personnel Saddam Hussain succumbed to his injuries at the Mayo Hospital on Friday. Other three critically injured cops are battling for their lives at the Intensive Care Unit of Mayo Hospital, Lahore police spokesman Syed Mubashir said on Friday.

A CCTV footage showed a teenage boy wearing black shalwar kameez and a suicide vest coming closer to the vehicle of elite force beforing blowing himself up.

Punjab Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz said it was a suicide attack as the target was the vehicle of the elite force that was stationed outside the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajvari commonly known as Data Darbar.

"Police was the target. 100 per cent," he said.

Mubashir said the police have arrested four suspects with the help of CCTV cameras in the city.

The rickshaw used to transport the suicide bomber to the shrine has been identified, he added.

The CCTV footage shows the rickshaw driver approached the bomber as the latter emerged from Garhi Shahu area, some seven kilometres from the shrine.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack which came on the second day of Muslim holy month of Ramazan and has directed the Punjab government to provide all assistance to the injured and families of victims.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has ordered an inquiry into the attack.

The shrine is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. In 2010, the heavily-guarded shrine was targeted in a suicide attack that killed more than 40 people.

Police also confirmed that Hizbul Ahrar had claimed responsibility for sending the teenage suicide bomber to the shrine.

The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab has examined the records of three terror groups, including the Ghazi Force and Jamaatul Ahrar.

Hizbul Ahrar is a splinter group of Jamaatul Ahrar headed by Muqarram Shah from Afghanistan. It separated from Jamaatul Ahrar due to internal rifts.

It started operating separately to target primarily the law enforcement agencies in various parts of Pakistan, the police said, adding the CTD is also following other leads, like the possibility of the involvement of Islamic State terror group.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 10 2019. 19:46 IST