A powerful bomb blast near the Punjab Assembly Building in Lahore killed at least 16 innocent citizens and wounded another 30 on Monday. According to local media reports, the blast occurred when a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into the crowd of protesters on the Mall Road. The incident took place when hundreds of pharmaceutical distributors were protesting against the Drug Act introduced by the Punjab Government.

Lahore Blast
Image Credit: Samaa TV / Facebook video (screenshot)

Senior police officers martyred in Lahore blast

CCPO Lahore Ameen Vaince said in a statement that DIG Traffic-Lahore Captain (retd) Ahmed Mobin was martyred in the blast. Earlier in the day, Ahmed Mobin was seen on television trying to convince the protesters to call off the strike and clear the area, reports Dawn. Rescue officials confirmed that Senior Superintendent of Police Zahid Gondal was also martyred in the tragic incident.

Ambulances and fire brigades were rushed to the site of the blast. Contingents of the police, Pakistan Army, and Pak Rangers have also reached to the Charing Cross on Mall Road, where the incident took place. The protesting drug dealers dispersed after the blast. According to Geo TV, the explosion was so powerful that the windows of nearby police vehicles and DSNG vans were shattered.

Citizens line up to donate blood

The injured have been shifted to Ganga Ram Hospital and Mayo Hospital. Many citizens of Lahore rushed to the hospitals to donate blood to the wounded. Rescue officials said at least 19 wounded people had been identified. Last year, more than 70 people were killed in the Easter Day bombing in a public park in Lahore, which led police officials to arrest more than 5,000 alleged militants.

On February 7, the National Counter-terrorism Authority (NACTA) had warned the Home Secretary of Punjab that a terror attack could occur in Lahore. NACTA had directed the police and Punjab government to increase the vigilance of all major installations including schools, hospitals, and important buildings. Rana Sanaullah, the Law Minister of Punjab, told Dawn that vigilance was heightened to the maximum after NACTA’s alert.

Islamabad on high alert

Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, has been put on red alert following the bomb blast in Lahore. The Inspector General of Police has issued directives that all routes coming in and going out of Islamabad be monitored strictly.