A suicide bomber blew him up among police guards deployed in front of a court in eastern Pakistan ahead of a planned protest by lawyers Thursday, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said. Suspicion will likely fall on Islamic militants.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene of the attack outside Lahore High Court saw more than 25 dead and wounded people, including police and civilians. Wounded people lying in pools of blood were crying for help.
He also saw the severed head of a man with long hair and beard, possibly that of the suicide bomber.
Lahore chief of police operations in Aftab Cheema said the bomber arrived on a motorbike parked it near the police guards before running up to the barrier they were manning and blew him up. He said 19 policemen and one civilian was killed.
Another police official Mohammed Masood said more than 50 others were wounded, including civilian passers-by.
The police were deployed in front of the court ahead of planned anti-government protest by lawyers. Lahore is the main city in Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab.
TV footage showed at least four victims lying motionless on the ground close to a destroyed motorbike and a piece of smoking debris. Ambulance workers loaded the bleeding bodies onto stretchers as police sirens wailed in the background. Some of the victims were in black and brown police uniforms.
Police with guns and riot gear cordoned off the area and appealed to bystanders to rush to hospitals to donate blood instead of crowding the scene and hindering the rescue work.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which will deepen Pakistan’s turmoil ahead of Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.