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Pakistan victims call for attack masterminds to hang

Lahore / PAK –

Anger was growing in Pakistan Tuesday as the grief-stricken relatives of 26
people killed by a suicide bomber in Lahore a day earlier buried their loved
ones and demanded the government publicly hang the masterminds of the
attack.
Families and residents in the bustling eastern city demanded action as they
attended funeral prayers, and as the chief minister of Punjab province Shahbaz
Sharif — brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — visited survivors in
hospital.
“We demand from the Government of Pakistan that those who are involved in
this incident and those who are the facilitators should be hanged in public,”
Hafiz Naseer ul Din, uncle of a policeman killed in the blast, told AFP.
“We came here in great grief,” added Shaikh Rizwan, a local resident who
attended the funeral prayers for some of the victims.
“Twenty-six people were martyred here yesterday, I request my government that
please uproot these terrorists fully so our country can progress,” he said.
The powerful blast Monday hit a busy vegetable market on a bustling main road
in the southern part of Lahore, blowing out the windows in nearby buildings.
Many of those killed in the attack were police who were clearing shopping
stalls that had illegally encroached on to the road.
On Tuesday distraught relatives carried the coffins of two policemen,
brothers who were killed in the attack, to a petrol pump which had been turned
into a makeshift prayer ground.
Floral wreaths from local police chiefs were placed on the wooden coffins as
family members wept.
Police have said their initial investigations show the attack, claimed by the
Pakistani Taliban, was carried out by a suicide bomber.
Forensic experts were collecting evidence from the site of the blast Tuesday,
an AFP video reporter saw.
Lahore has been hit by significant militant attacks in Pakistan’s more than
decade-long war on extremism, but they have been less frequent in recent
years.
The last major blast in the city was in March last year, when 75 were killed
and hundreds injured in a bomb targeting Christians celebrating Easter Sunday in
a park.
But the country was also hit by a wave of attacks in February this year,
including a bomb that killed 14 people in Lahore.
In April a further seven were killed in an attack in the city targeting a
team that was carrying out the country’s long overdue census.
After years of spiralling insecurity, the powerful army launched a crackdown
on militancy in the wake of a brutal attack on a school in late 2014.
More than 150 people, most of them children, died in the Taliban-led assault
in the northwestern city of Peshawar — the country’s deadliest ever single
attack.
It shook a country already grimly accustomed to atrocities and prompted the
military to step up operations in the tribal areas, where militants had
previously operated with impunity.

The country has seen a dramatic improvement in security since, though groups
such as the Pakistani Taliban retain the ability to carry out spectacular
attacks.