Explosion hits near major Sufi shrine in Lahore

A police vehicle was badly damaged in blast near Data Darbar in Lahore. — DawnNewsTV

At least eight people including five police officials were killed and scores injured in a blast outside the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore on Wednesday morning.

The shrine has been targeted previously, in a 2010 suicide attack that killed more than 40 people.

Senior police official Muhammad Ashfaq told a press conference that the security personnel at the shrine were targeted, but stressed that the cause and nature of the blast remains under investigation.

The blast could not immediately be ascertained as a suicide blast.

The president deplored the loss of precious lives in the incident and said those involved in such despicable incident in the holy month of Ramzan are misguided elements.

Entry to the Data Darbar was sealed in the aftermath of the blast.

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A security operation is still under way in the area, with heavy police presence at the blast site. Television footage showed a number of damaged vehicles near the shrine.

Militant Islamists see visits to Sufi shrines and some rituals at the graves of Muslim saints as un-Islamic.

Among those killed, includes five policemen, two civilians and a private guard.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif also condemned the attack and blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for its failure in implementing the National Action Plan (NAP). Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also a frequent visitor to the shrine.

Since an attack in a Lahore park targeting Christians celebrating Easter in 2016 killed more than 70 people, Pakistan's second largest city has been largely quiet although an attack previous year killed nine people.

Sufis, who follow a mystical form of Islam that has been practised in South Asia for centuries, have been regularly attacked by hardline Sunni Muslim militants in the past.

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