According to police, an explosion in a bustling retail centre in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore killed at least two people and injured scores more.
According to police spokesperson Nayab Haider, the explosion occurred on Thursday afternoon in the Lohari Gate district, a densely packed neighbourhood with small stores jammed into narrow criss-crossing streets.
“We have confirmed the deaths of two people,” he said, adding that four of the injured were in critical condition.
Officials at the Mayo hospital in Lahore, where the injured were being treated, verified the death toll and claimed at least 26 people were injured in the blast.
On television, police officers were seen cordoning off the blast site and forensic teams collecting evidence.
“Initially, it appears that this explosion was triggered by a placed [bomb] device,” senior police official Abid Khan told reporters at the scene.
Khan stated that investigations into the nature of the blast and the type of explosive used were still ongoing.
According to police official Khan, the majority of the wounded were hit in the lower limbs by shrapnel.
The attack, which took place in the commercial heart of Pakistan’s second-largest city, was not immediately claimed by any party.
Following the breakdown of discussions between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, often known as the Pakistani Taliban), Pakistan has experienced a series of small-scale attacks targeting police officers, security forces, and civilians in recent weeks.
On Monday, a police officer was killed and two others were injured when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint in the capital, Islamabad, in an attack the interior minister said may be the start of a wave of attacks. In a statement provided to journalists on Tuesday, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.
In December, the TTP unilaterally ended a truce that had been in place throughout those discussions, which had been mediated by the Afghan Taliban.