The Hindu – Pakistan on edge as terror hits continue

Mubashir Zaidi

Karachi, 23 February 2017. At least eight people were killed in a blast at a crowded market in Lahore, 10th attack in two weeks

At least eight people were killed and 30 injured in an explosion in the highly guarded Defence Housing Authority area in Lahore, the 10th attack in less than two weeks pointing to a resurgence in Islamist violence in Pakistan.

The blast comes a day after Pakistan announced a new nation-wide anti-terror offensive. Muhammad Iqbal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Counter-Terrorism Department, Punjab, said immediately after the attack that the blast was caused by explosives.

“How the explosives reached the area and how it got exploded is under investigations,” he said. The blast happened in a popular commercial area known for its cafés and restaurants.

The blast ripped through a yet-to-be-opened restaurant where people gathered to finalise its opening. Restaurant owner Moazzam Paracha was among the dead.

Four cars destroyed

The blast happened next to popular Indian cuisine restaurant Bombay Chaupati. Provincial minister Rana Sanaullah said the blast was “huge”. Rescue in-charge Farooq Ahmed told reporters the injured have been shifted to nearby hospitals. Four cars parked nearby were completely destroyed. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Just over an hour later rumours of a second blast in another affluent area nearby sent ambulances racing to the scene, though authorities later said the reports were false. Media regulator PEMRA issued notices to 31 news channels as police claimed that the news was wrong.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in Turkey, said in a statement that he is grieved over the loss of life.

Over the past two weeks, terrorists have struck cities in all the provinces setting alarm bells ringing for the Sharif government and the powerful military.

More than 120 people have died in these attacks. Authorities are claiming to have killed more than 150 suspected terrorists in a country-wide crackdown on militancy.

Optimism dented

The incidents, most of which were claimed by the Islamic State group or the Pakistani Taliban, have dented optimism after the country appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half long war on militancy.

“After some relief over the last year or two, it’s turmoil again, it’s very troublesome,” Asha’ar Rehman, the Lahore editor of leading daily Dawn told AFP.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pak-on-edge-as-terror-hits-continue/article17355820.ece

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