A suspected suicide bombing near a police checkpoint killed five police and four bystanders and wounded 27 others on Wednesday near the city of Lahore in eastern Pakistan, police said.
Haider Ashraf, Lahore police chief, said that evidence collected from the scene suggested it was a suicide attack. However, investigators and explosives experts were working to ascertain whether the bomb was planted near the checkpoint. He said he believes the police were targeted.
The checkpoint is located near a religious group's main congregation place in Raiwind near Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
Ashraf said evidence at the scene suggested a motorcycle was used.
Police said the blast took place after evening prayers and most members of the religious group had exited into the street, some making purchases nearby.
Ashraf said many of the wounded were police and three were hospitalized in critical condition. Other wounded included members of the Islamic preaching group known as Tablighi Jamaat.
The main country’s Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was a suicide attack.
Lahore and its surroundings have seen many bomb and suicide attacks in recent years, killing scores.
A suicide attack near a software technology park in Lahore killed 26 people and wounded over 50 in July last year. Three months earlier, a suicide bombing targeted a Pakistani government census team, killing at least six people in the eastern city of Lahore.
In February last year, 18 people were killed, including several police officials, and more than 80 wounded in a suicide attack during a protest on a busy intersection of Lahore.
On Easter Sunday in 2016, at least 75 people were killed and hundreds other wounded in a suicide bombing that hit the main entrance of a park.