Pakistan city hit by fresh bomb blast

A shopkeeper reviewing the damage at the site of a court complex in the Tangi area of Charsadda district, Pakistan, on Monday as a soldier stood guard. At least five people were killed after the Taleban targeted the area. Another attack yesterday rai
A shopkeeper reviewing the damage at the site of a court complex in the Tangi area of Charsadda district, Pakistan, on Monday as a soldier stood guard. At least five people were killed after the Taleban targeted the area. Another attack yesterday raised fears that the militants are regrouping.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Explosion is second to hit Lahore this month, suggesting a comeback in Islamist violence

LAHORE • At least six people were killed and 30 injured after a bomb ripped through Lahore in Pakistan yesterday, officials said.

The 10th attack in just under a fortnight points to a resurgence in Islamist violence.

The blast, the second to hit the provincial capital this month, crumpled cars and sent panic rippling through the city after attacks earlier this month across Pakistan killed more than 130 people.

"My God, my God, I saw so many bodies," said barber Imtiaz Ali in a Tony & Guy hair salon in the posh Defence Housing Authority suburb of the city, replete with upscale boutiques and cafes. The salon is opposite the blast site.

The building where the bomb went off was under construction in a market crowded with people, including children, the 34-year-old told AFP. "When I came out, I first just saw smoke and dust... Bikes upturned. Cars destroyed. My own colleague's car windows blown out.

"My clients' cars blown out.

"I was close to fainting."

Police and administration officials confirmed it was a bomb attack, as rescuers supplied the casualty toll. No group has immediately 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.

The panic underscored growing nervousness across the country as a series of assaults shook what had been a growing sense of security during a prolonged lull in violence.

They included a previous bomb blast in Lahore last Monday which killed 15 people, and a devastating suicide attack at a Sufi shrine in Sindh province that left 90 devotees dead.

The attacks, most of which were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Pakistani Taleban, have dented growing optimism over the country's security after it appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half-long war on militancy.

The emergence of ISIS and a Taleban resurgence would be a major blow to Pakistan.

Analysts have said the apparently coordinated nature of the attacks suggested that the militants were now regrouping.

Islamabad launched a crackdown in the wake of the attacks, saying it has killed dozens of "terrorists" in recent days and carried out air strikes on militant hideouts along the Afghan border.

On Wednesday, the military announced a nationwide anti-terrorist operation.

The nation had vowed to hold the final of its hugely popular Pakistan Super League cricket match in Lahore next month despite the surge in violence, promising "head of state level" security for foreign players.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Pakistan city hit by fresh bomb blast'. Print Edition | Subscribe