Two senior police officers were among those killed by a suspected suicide bomb attack in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

The blast on Monday ripped through a crowd of people who had gathered for a protest by chemists and pharmaceutical manufacturers outside the provincial assembly on Mall Road, Lahore’s grand Raj-era thoroughfare.

“Apparently it was a suicide blast, but police are still investigating to know the exact nature,” a Punjab police spokesman, Nayab Haider, told Reuters.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban-linked armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded at least 83 people, including media personnel covering the protest. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was “just the start”.

Live TV registered a loud bang and showed smoke and fire billowing up as people ran away, some of them carrying the wounded.

“We just couldn’t understand what happened,” Tufail Nabi told local Geo News TV. “It was as if some big building collapsed,” he said as he limped away.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, a roadside bomb killed two members of bomb disposal squad on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta, said police officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema. Another eight people were wounded, he said. A Taliban-linked group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, said it planted the bomb.

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