Bomb explosion kills 2 people in Lahore; 26 injured

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Lahore: A powerful bomb blast hit a crowded bazaar in Pakistan’s second-largest city, Lahore, on Thursday, killing at least two people and injuring 26, police and relief officials said. A newly formed separatist group from the southwestern province of Balochistan claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast was so powerful that it damaged several shops in the famous Anarkali Bazaar, two witnesses, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdul Majeed, told reporters. Video footage from the scene showed motorcycles on fire and victims screaming for help. Among those killed and injured were bystanders, shoppers or owners of local shops.

According to Abid Khan, a senior police official, some of the injured were listed as being in critical condition and there were fears the death toll could rise further.

Police were still trying to determine what type of device was used in the attack, Khan added. An investigation was underway.

Hours after the attack, the New Nationalist Balochistan Army said it was behind the bombing. The group was created earlier this month, when two minor separatist groups – the Baluchistan Republican Army and the United Baloch Army – merged and appointed Mureed Baloch as their spokesperson.

Baloch claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack in a Twitter post. He did not reveal the motives for the attack, saying only that a statement will be released later.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing and in a statement urged local authorities to provide the best possible medical facilities for the injured.

Baluchistan has been the scene of a long-running insurgency in Pakistan, with an array of separatist groups launching attacks, mostly against security forces. The separatists are demanding independence from the central government in Islamabad. Although Pakistani authorities say they have brought the insurgency under control, violence in Balochistan has persisted.

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