LAHORE -- At least 10 people were killed and 71 injured when an apparent Taliban suicide blast ripped through a protest in Lahore Monday (February 13), officials said.
Police cordoned off the area near the crowded Mall Road, one of the city's main arteries, as witnesses fled amid fears of a second explosion, with images of the injured being carried away shown by local media.
The road had been crowded with hundreds of people, mainly chemists, protesting provincial government plans to further regulate the medical sector.
Rescue official Deeba Shahnaz said at least 10 people had died in the explosion, while some 71 other wounded people had been rushed to city hospitals, in figures confirmed by hospital sources.
The attack "seems to be a suicide blast", senior police official Amin Wains said, adding it had apparently targeted police trying to regulate the protest.
The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamatul Ahrar swiftly claimed responsibility for the blast, which came three days after it announced it would carry out a series of attacks on government installations around the country.
A spokesman for the group warned in an statement that Monday's blast was "just the start".