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Pakistan

Deadly blast rocks upscale market in Pakistani city of Lahore

An explosion at a shopping area in Lahore has killed at least eight and wounded dozens in the country's latest surge of violence. The blast came a day after the military announced the start of an anti-terror operation.

At least 20 people were wounded and another eight killed when a blast ripped through a building in a market in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, officials said.

The explosion was caused by a timed device that was placed in a building that was under construction, Punjab police told television channel Geo News. Police further told the channel that between 8-10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of explosives were used.

"It was a bomb attack," Nayab Haider, a spokesman for the provincial Punjab police told news agency AFP.

The blast took place in the particularly upscale Defense Housing Authority suburb of the city, home to boutiques, coffee shops, banks and an academy for the international hair salon Toni & Guy.

Security forces are not allowing people to enter or leave the market as they believe the bomber is still alive, authorities said.

Television footage and images posted on social media showed a charred building, cars with their windows blown out and bodies on the street.

One witness who works at a bank near the bomb blast told Reuters news agency that his workplace was rattled by the "frightening" explosion.

"We left the building and saw that the motorbikes parked outside were on fire and all the windows in the surrounding buildings were shattered," the witness, Mohammad Khurram, said.

Pakistan Mehr als hundert Extremisten nach Anschlag auf Sufi-Schrein in Pakistan getötet (REUTERS/A. Soomro)

A blast at a Sufi shrine earlier this month killed 90 devotees.

Surge in attacks

The blast in Lahore came one day after the Pakistani military announced the start of a nationwide anti-terror operation in the wake of a surge of assaults that have killed more than 130 people in the past two weeks.

The recent deadly attacks in Pakistan include a previous bomb blast in Lahore last week that killed 14 people.

One of the worst attacks took place at a Sufi shrine in the southern Sindh province that left 90 people dead.

The attacks, which were carried out by militants with ties to groups including the Pakistani Taliban and the so-called "Islamic State," have damaged optimism about the country's security after it appeared to be making gains in its war on militancy.

rs/se (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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