Bomb in Pakistan's Lahore kills one, wounds 13, say police

Thousands of people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks by homegrown Islamist militants in Pakistan in recent years. (File photo: AFP)

A bomb exploded in a bustling food market in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, killing one person and wounding 13 others, officials said.

The blast hit Anarkali bazaar in the old city area of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city and capital of relatively peaceful Punjab province.

Doctor Tahir Bilal told AFP that one dead body and 13 injured have been brought to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital.

“Condition of some of those wounded is critical,” Bilal said, adding that one woman was among the injured.

Senior police officer Rai Tahir confirmed the death toll and said the bomb appeared to have been a relatively low-powered device.

TV footage showed broken tables and chairs outside a small restaurant in the street of food shops and stalls, where a bombing in July killed five people and wounded nearly 50 others.

That attack was the worst bombing in Lahore since a teenage suicide attacker targeted a Shiite Muslim religious procession on January 25, 2011, killing at least nine people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came before the main lunchtime rush of customers in the area.

An employee of the restaurant told reporters at the scene that he had not received any threats from militants.

The attack came hours after a rare video interview was broadcast with Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who said he was still open to peace talks but complained the government had not taken any serious steps to begin a dialogue.

Mehsud, who has a $5 million U.S. government bounty on his head, said he would continue to target the United States and its allies and reiterated the demand that any ceasefire in Pakistan must include an end to U.S. drone strikes.

Pakistan’s main political parties last month backed a government proposal to seek negotiations with Mehsud’s Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the state since 2007.

The TTP faction responded with a list of preconditions, including a government ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghan border where the militants have hideouts.

Moreover, a spate of bloody attacks have cast doubt on the proposed dialogue, though senior ministers have said they are keen to press ahead.

More than 140 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the space of a week in a series of bombings in the northwestern city of Peshawar, though the TTP denied responsibility.

Thousands of people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks by homegrown Islamist militants in Pakistan in recent years.

The violence has largely focused on the country’s northwest, where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have hideouts in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Attacks in Punjab, the richest and most populous province and stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party, are more unusual.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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