A suicide blast at one of Pakistan’s oldest and most popular Sufi shrines killed at least 10 people and wounded 24 in the eastern city of Lahore today morning.
Here are 15 things you need to know:
1. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
2. The blast – which a faction of the terrorist group claimed by email – occurred near the entrance gate for female visitors Data Darbar.
3. 11th-century Data Darbar shrine, one of the largest Sufi shrines in South Asia, on the second day of the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.
4. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said 10 people lost their lives. Five policemen were also among the martyred.
5. Although officials have yet to determine the exact nature of the blast, senior police officers and medics say it was carried out by a suicide bomber. IG Punjab Police Arif Nawaz said police force was the target of the attack that took place outside the shrine.
6. Debris from vehicles littered the pavement near the shrine as first responders rushed to the scene while armed security forces fanned out in the area.
The shrine has long been home to colourful Sufi festivals and a prime destination for the country’s myriad Muslim sects, making it a soft target for terrorist attacks.
7. Accomplished Sufi master and revered intellectual Syed Ali bin Usman al- Hajvery (Hazrat Data Gang Bakhsh) settled in Lahore during 11th century. He propagated the religious, spiritual, moral and educational dimensions of Islam in South Asia.
8. The shrine of Data Sahib is visited round the clock by the devotees from all over the country. The government embarked upon an ambitious two phase expansion plan of the shrine in 1978.
9. The second phase began in 1997 under the direction of the prime minister is complete.
10. The mosque is now spread over a total of 3,68,150 sq. ft. and is the third largest mosque in Pakistan. It can accommodate up to 52,600 devotees.
11. This area has been a target for Islamic terrorists in the past.
12. Two suicide bombers carried out a deadly attack on the Sufi shrine in March 2010. At least 42 people died in the blasts at the popular Data Darbar shrine. At least 175 other people were hurt in the attack.
13. The last time Data Darbar was in the news was just three days ago, when former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the shrine and offered Fatiha. The outsed premier stood beside the grave of Hazrat Ali Hajveri – commonly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh – for a while keeping his eyes closed.
Terrorism has been a huge part of Pakistan’s recent history. With decades of violence and bloodshed, we thought we had seen the worst. However, if today is any indicator, we must brace ourselves for more. Our thought and prayers go out to the men and women who have lost their lives trying to ensure we are safe, and we hope they succeed.