Terror Attack in Lahore and Potential Security Risks
25 Jul 2017
A suicide bomber has killed at least 26 people in Pakistan’s second most populous city, Lahore. Dozens have also been wounded after the explosion seemingly targeted police in the Punjab capital. These numbers are expected to rise.Of those killed, at least nine were police officers. Local sources have suggested that the suicide bomber specifically targeted a group of officers who were clearing street vendors near Arfa Software Technology Park on Ferozepur Road. The Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred as the bomber rammed his motorcycle into the police. Local authorities have suggested that as much as six kilograms of explosives were used by the perpetrator.
- At least 26 people have been confirmed dead and dozens injured after an explosion in central Lahore.
- Police have confirmed it was a suicide blast and that they were specifically targeted.
- The attack occurred close to the residence and office of Punjab province’s Chief Minister.
- Tehrik-i-Taliban, Pakistan’s Taliban, have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Terrorism: A suicide bomber has killed at least 26 people in Pakistan’s second most populous city, Lahore. Dozens have also been wounded after the explosion seemingly targeted police in the Punjab capital. These numbers are expected to rise.
Of those killed, at least nine were police officers. Local sources have suggested that the suicide bomber specifically targeted a group of officers who were clearing street vendors near Arfa Software Technology Park on Ferozepur Road. The Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred as the bomber rammed his motorcycle into the police. Local authorities have suggested that as much as six kilograms of explosives were used by the perpetrator.
Solace Global Comment
This attack represents the continued high threat of terrorism across all of Pakistan and not only in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Indeed, this is the third significant terror attack in Lahore this year. In April, six people were killed when a suicide attack targeted a vehicle carrying census workers. In February 2017, 13 people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked police posted at a demonstration in central Lahore. Militants have been known to mount attacks in the lead-up to, and on, occasions of significance. This includes Pakistan National Day (23 March), the storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad by government troops (which occurred in July 2007), and Independence Day (14 August).
This attack shows the resourcefulness of terrorists in Pakistan and across the world. Indeed, in the last year, the world has seen car rammings and bombings, knife attacks, shootings, and motorcycle bombings. A more concerning facet of this attack though is its location. This attack occurred in a relatively secure and affluent area of Lahore, close to Arfa Karim IT Tower and the offices of the provincial Chief Minister. This demonstrates the unpredictability of terror attacks in Pakistan.
The Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack. The group are most active in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan in the west of the country. Unlike other terror groups, such as Islamic State or Al Qaeda, the Pakistan Taliban generally attack domestic targets, rather than adventuring abroad. Pakistan’s Islamic State (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province or ISIS-KP) and Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan’s Taliban or TTP) are opposed to each other. Indeed, ISIS-KP was formed by a split in the Taliban. Tehrik-i-Taliban and ISIS-KP are not the only terror groups active in Pakistan, and terrorism is not the only factor ensuring that Pakistan continues to have a challenging security environment. Other factors include violent crime which comes in the form of carjacking, kidnapping, and armed robbery. There has recently been a number of reports of individuals impersonating police officers with fake police identification cards. Non-violent crimes and crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing, are rife in Pakistan. Of particular concern if the practice of celebratory gunfire around major holidays and sporting events. On 01 January 2017, 20 people were injured after celebratory gunfire in Karachi.
Map: TTP (only) Terror Attacks in Pakistan between 2000-2016, coloured by attack type and sized by number of fatalities. Data Source: Global Terrorism Database
Due to this attack, travellers in the area should be prepared for further enhanced security measures, especially in the impacted area of Lahore. Travellers should be aware of the potential for police raids, increased checkpoints, and stop and searches. It is important that police instruction should be adhered to, so any situation can be rapidly resolved and as little time as possible is spent in the open or stationary. Travellers should also avoid staying near police stations or congregating near the police as they are commonly targeted by terrorists. Security levels at airports have increased, so it is advisable to take extra time to pass through airport security checkpoints. It should also be considered that foreign governments issues warnings surrounding the threat of a terror attack at the countryâs airports. Indeed, in April 2017, the British foreign office issued a warning over a potential terror attack at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad. Protests often turn violent and, as previously noted, can be targeted by terror groups for an attack. It is important for travellers to have more than one form of communication, as Pakistani authorities are known to cut off mobile networks after multiple, large-scale attacks.
When bomb attacks do occur, travellers are advised to take cover and avoid the blast area in case of secondary or follow up blasts. It is important to stay away from glass or electronic fixtures. If possible, travellers should move away from danger areas as soon as possible. It is advisable to avoid crowds and to not return for any lost belongings. Travellers should avoid gathering in a group immediately following a blast, as a secondary blast is likely to target obvious assembly points.
Solace Global would advise clients of the importance of enhanced security measures when visiting Pakistan. A security-trained driver is the minimal advisable measure for Lahore. For other areas of the country, and long journeys, further measures may be advisable. Travellers are advised to maintain a heightened level of situational awareness and remain vigilant at all times, including at the countryâs airports. Travellers should also employ travel-tracking technology with an intelligence feed. This should allow travellers to be aware of potential security incidents around them and for them to notify others in case of an emergency.
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