Dawn – Five armed forces personnel slain in Lahore blast targeting census team

Wasim Riaz & Arif Malik

Lahore, 5 April 2017. Six people, including four Army soldiers and an off-duty Air Force airman, lost their lives after a suicide bomber targeted a census team in Lahore’s Bedian Road area on Wednesday morning.

At least 19 others were injured in the attack, according to the provincial government.

The injured were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and General Hospital. At least three of the injured were said to be in critical condition. One, identified as Lance Naik Irshad, lost his life while undergoing treatment.

The proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in a statement said: “The soldiers and civil enumerators who embraced shahadat today […] were on census duty […] a national obligation. [This] is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice.”

He added that “[The] census will be completed at any cost.”

The explosion was the result of a suicide bomber blowing himself up near an army vehicle, an unnamed police official told Reuters.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, while speaking to Samaa, confirmed it as a terrorist incident.

“There was a threat alert, and in the last 10 days the threat alert in Lahore was repeated,” he said, explaining that when an alert is issued repeatedly, it is considered “serious”.

“But in the case of suicide attacks, unless the intelligence [agencies] have prior information, it is difficult to prevent them from happening,” Sanaullah said.

Bedian Road, on most days, is a bustling route, used by many to commute to areas adjacent to DHA’s upscale Phase 5 neighbourhood. Brimming with fruit vendors and push-carts, it is largely surrounded by farmland and farmhouses.

The blast caused a lot of panic

An eyewitness talking to DawnNews said the blast caused a lot of a panic in the area.
Eyewitness talks to DawnNews.

“When I heard the sound, I rushed out of my home on a bike. When I got here, I saw dead bodies.

He claimed that he had earlier alerted authorities “on the presence of dangerous people in my neighborhood”.

“I recommended [police] to seal this entire area and conduct a search operation. However, nobody acted on my recommendations.”

COAS pays tribute to slain soldiers

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty, according to an ISPR statement.

“Sacrifice of precious lives of civil enumerators and soldiers is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice,” he said.

“These sacrifices will only strengthen our resolve and with the support of entire nation we will cleanse the menace of terrorism from our soil.”

Corps Commander Lahore Lt General Mohammad Sadiq Ali visited the injured at CMH and said he was proud of the men who laid down their lives in the blast.

He also said the operation against terrorists will continue across the country.

PM expresses condolences

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences on the loss of lives in the blast.

The premier paid tribute to the army personnel “who were targeted while performing their duties during the national census”.

He directed the authorities concerned to extend all requisite assistance to the provincial government.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif “strongly condemned” the incident and directed authorities to submit a report regarding the blast.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1325024/5-armed-forces-personnel-slain-in-lahore-blast-targeting-census-team

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