A Taliban suicide bombing in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province has killed at least six people, including two census workers and four soldiers escorting them, Pakistani authorities said Wednesday.
A local police official, Mohammad Afzal, said the attack took place near an army vehicle on the outskirts of Lahore, the provincial capital. He said 18 people were also wounded in the blast.
Malik Ahmad Khan, Punjab government spokesman, confirmed it was a suicide attack.
Security officials had cordoned off the area on Bedian Road after the blast.
Muhammad Khurassani, a spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a banned movement often called the
Pakistani Taliban, issued a statement claiming responsibility.
Teams of enumerators backed by the military and security forces are carrying out Pakistan’s first census in almost two decades, an enormous and highly charged task that could redraw Pakistan’s political map one year before national parliamentary elections.
Tens of thousands of data collectors, supported by 200,000 Pakistani soldiers, go door-to-door for the project, which is to be finished by May 15.
Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the census would be completed “at any cost”.
“These sacrifices will only strengthen our resolve and with the support of entire nation we will cleanse the menace of terrorism from our soil,” he said in a statement.
Lahore’s blast, the latest in a series that has killed scores of people in Pakistan since the beginning of the year, follows an attack in the city last month that killed at least 13 and wounded dozens more.
The spate of attacks has ratcheted up tensions with neighbouring Afghanistan, which some Pakistani officials accuse
of sheltering TTP militants. Afghanistan’s government, in its turn, accuses Islamabad of aiding the Afghan Taliban, a charge Pakistan denies.