(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
LAHORE, Pakistan - A suicide bomber killed at least 16 people, many of them police, in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday, officials said, shattering a period of relative calm in Pakistan's second-largest city.
The blast wrought carnage near the Lahore Technology Park in the center of the city, targeting police officials who were deployed to clear street vendors from the area, a police official said.
"The death toll we have now is 16 and over 20 are wounded," said Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the Rescue 1122 service.
Bomb blasts by militants are common in Pakistan, especially in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but attacks in Lahore have become less frequent in recent years.
Haider Ashraf, deputy inspector general of Punjab police, said the blast was a suicide attack and "police were the target."
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but in the past such blasts have often been carried out by Pakistani Taliban militants.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the majority of those killed and wounded were police and warned the death toll could rise.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the blast in a statement and "directed for extending best possible medical treatment for the injured."
In early April, a suicide attack on an army census team killed at least six people and wounded 18 in Lahore.