At least 13 people were killed and 82 injured when an apparent Taliban suicide blast ripped through a protest in Lahore on Monday, Pakistani officials said, shattering the city's growing sense of security. Police cordoned off the area near the crowded Mall Road, one of the city's main arteries, as witnesses fled in fear of a second explosion. Local media showed images of the injured being carried away. The road had been packed with hundreds of people, mainly chemists, protesting provincial government plans to further regulate the medical sector.
Chief of police in Punjab province of which Lahore is capital, said at least 13 people including six policemen were killed in the attack. Rescue officials said that at least 82 wounded people had been rushed to city hospitals. The attack "seems to be a suicide blast", senior police official Amin Wains said, adding it had apparently targeted police trying to regulate the protest. The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the assault, which came three days after it announced it would carry out a series of attacks on government installations around the country. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that Monday's blast was "just the start".