Jul 24, 1:18 PM EDT

Pakistan: Suicide bombing in Lahore kills 26, wounds 54


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LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber struck near a police team in the eastern city of Lahore Monday killing at least 26 and wounded another 54, many of them police officers. An outlawed Taliban faction claimed responsibility.

Senior police officer Haider Ashraf said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted police guarding a demolition site at Kot Lakhpat's vegetable market on the outskirts of Lahore.

Ashraf said it was believed earlier that the bomb was in a car, but it was later discovered that the vehicle belonged to a police officer, among the eight officers killed.

He said many of 54 wounded are policemen and several bystanders were wounded by the impact of the powerful blast. Ashraf added that near the blast site a high rise building houses important information technology offices but the apparent target was the police gathering.

The outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming they used a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.

Rana Sanaullah, the home minister of eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, said anti-state elements who want to see instability in the country were behind the attack.

"No matter what name they use, these terrorists are one but they cannot demoralize the Pakistani nation," said Sanaullah.

Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the blast occurred near the secretariat of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but that he was not in the office oat the time.

Sharif in a statement condemned the attack and called for the best possible medical service for the survivors.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned attack in Lahore and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

"He supports the efforts of the government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and violent extremism with full respect for international human rights norms and obligations," Haq said.

Lahore has faced scores of terror attacks in recent years. A suicide bombing earlier this year killed 16 police on a busy road while another killed over 70 people during Easter last year.

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