LAHORE - The death toll in suicide blast outside Data Darbar rises to 11 as another police official succumbed to injuries at the Mayo Hospital on early Thursday.

More than 25 people are still under treatment at different hospitals and several among them are said to be in critical condition.

A Taliban bomber blew up his suicide vest as he approached an elite police force vehicle stationed outside the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajveri, popularly known as Data Darbar, on Wednesday morning. At least 10 people including four policemen and two security guards died in the bombing, which shattered almost two years of relative calm in the metropolis.

Police Constable Saddam Hussain, a resident of district Kasur, expired in the Mayo Hospital on Thursday morning. So far, 11 people including five policemen and two private security guards have been killed in the attack, a police spokesman said yesterday. Another two dozen victims are being treated at hospitals, he added.

The funeral prayers for Constable Saddam Hussain were held at the Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh on Thursday afternoon. Punjab Police Inspector General Arif Nawaz Khan, Lahore CCPO, DIGs and a large number of police officials attended prayers. Later, the body was handed over to the family. The deceased police official was buried at a local graveyard in Kasur city.

Death toll rises to 11 as another policeman dies in hospital

The police and the counterterrorism department launched a Punjab-wide crackdown following the deadly blast. A spokesman said a CTD team conducted a raid at a hideout in Bahawalpur and arrested four members of the terror group, TTP or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. The CTD also seized explosive material and hand grenades from their possession.

According to a CTD spokesman, the arrests were made during an intelligence based operation launched in the Bahawalpur’s Civil Lines police precincts. Those arrested were identified as Zain Abbas, Muhammad Awais, Abdullah, and Adil Ramazan. The suspects were planning to attack sensitive installation in Bahawalpur district, the spokesman said.

An official said the investigations into the Data Darbar blast were underway and the fact would be shared with the public through media. He said the police were yet to ascertain the identity of the teenage suicide bomber who blew himself up near a police vehicle.

The official further said that the terrorists used ball bearing and steel nails to cause maximum damage. “At least 7 to 10kg explosive material was used in the blast carried out by a suicide bomber,” the official said. “Ball bearings and steal nails were seized from the crime scene,” he added.

A source at the central police office said the police launched combing operations against suspected militants across the province after the suicide blast in Lahore. He said more than 20 suspects were taken into custody during the security sweep. The suspects were shifted to different police facilities for further interrogation.

On the other hand, Punjab police carried out flag-march in big cities of the province to create a sense of security among the local population on the directions of IGP Arif Nawaz Khan.

The district police officers led flag-march to enhance the morale of the police force after the gruesome attack on policemen outside Data Darbar in Lahore. “It was a clear message to terrorists that Punjab Police are active all the time to protect lives and properties of the people. Every police official is determined to perform his duty” a police spokesman said. “Terrorists and miscreants should know that they will have to lick the dust all the time.”

A large number of police on gun-fitted vehicles carried out the flag-march around markets and other public places in big cities. All SHOs, DSPs, investigation officers, and elite police force personnel participated in the flag march. Prior to flag March, special prayers were held for police martyrs to acknowledge their sacrifices.

Punjab IGP Arif Nawaz Khan in a press release said that brave soldiers of Elite Police Force protected citizens of Lahore by sacrificing their lives in the Data Darbar suicide incident. The Punjab Police and the nation are proud of them, he said.

The police chief also visited Mayo Hospital to inquire after the health of injured officials. He said the process of welfare and care of families of the martyrs would continue on priority basis. He said that the morale, commitment, and determination of the police force against terrorists is unshakeable and personnel of Punjab Police will never be afraid of such acts of terrorism.

He also directed the provision of best medical treatment for the injured officials until their complete recovery. Lahore CCPO BA Nasir, and DIG (Operations) Ashfaq Ahmad Khan and several other officers were also present on this occasion.