Pakistan officials are blaming the Taliban for a bomb attack in Lahore that killed 23 people and left hundreds injured, BBC reports.
This morning at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, a group of men shot at police officers before detonating a powerful car bomb that damaged buildings belonging to police and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s version of the CIA.
Officials warn the death toll, as is customary in these cases, may rise. Some have been injured‚ severely, suffering broken limbs and third-degree burns.
This could be the first of many attacks on Pakistan cities since the Taliban vowed to strike urban centers as revenge for the military’s increased operations in Swat Valley, where they claim to have killed more than 1,000 Taliban operatives.
“Enemies of Pakistan who want to destabilize the country are coming here after their defeat in Swat. There is a war, and this is a war for our survival” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik, BBC reports.
The attack killed at least one ISI agent, 12 officers and one child. BBC reports officials are speculating that the ISI building was the target for the attack, though it is uncertain at this time.
Lahore, which is located in Punjab province near the Indian border, was the scene of two sieges in March as well. Militants flooded the city and killed at least eight people in late March, and weeks earlier attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team.
The BBC reports that the area is being targeted since it is believed to be the secure home for the country’s “Punjab-dominated army.”‚