9 killed in Pakistan as suicide bomber attacks police checkpoint

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Men carry the coffin of a policeman who was killed in a suicide blast a day earlier, during his funeral in Lahore, Pakistan March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Nine people were killed Wednesday in Pakistan after a suspected suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a police checkpoint in the city of Lahore.

Five of the killed victims were police officers, while 4 were bystanders. The explosion also injured 27 others, three of which are still in critical condition.

According to Lahore police chief Haider Ashraf, evidence collected from the scene points to a suicide attack. It is believed that the police were the target of the bombing.

“The martyred policemen are our heroes. Their sacrifices will not go in vain,” said chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The checkpoint that was targeted is located near a religious group’s main congregation place in the neighborhood of Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore. The attack took place after the evening prayers, and most of the members of the religious group had proceeded to nearby streets.

The city of Lahore had been the scene of various bombings and suicide attacks in recent times. In July, a suicide attack in a Lahore software technology park killed 26 people and wounded more than 50. In February last year, a suicide bomber attacked during a protest at a busy intersection in the city, killing 18 and injuring more than 80 people.

In a statement sent to journalists, the Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying that it was indeed a suicide attack. The outlawed group also threatened more attacks on police as retaliation for killing their “associates” in Punjab.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department offered $5 million as a reward for help in locating Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the TTP.

According to U.S. authorities, the group, the TTP gave explosives and training to Faisal Shahzad who attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square in New York in 2010.

The TTP was also responsible for the 2014 killing of over 150 people at a Peshawar school, as well as the failed 2012 assassination of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.