At least nine people have been killed and over 20 others injured in a bomb blast that ripped through a police checkpoint on the outskirts of the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, Press TV reported.
"I can at the moment say that police was the target", Ashraf said.
Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman of a state-run rescue service, told Reuters that his officials had taken seven dead bodies to hospitals.
Lahore and its surroundings have been targeted by multiple bomb and suicide attacks in recent years. According to the eyewitnesses, the blast was so powerful that it was heard at a long distance. "The condition of some policemen is critical", he said.
Rescue teams rushed to the scene and shifted the injured to Jinnah and General Hospitals.
"The PSL semi-finals will be held in Lahore as per schedule as we have made all security arrangements in this regard", Ashraf said. A fire ball was seen after the blast at the Nisar Police Check Post.
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Pakistan Rangers quick response force has reached the spot and cordoned off the area along with the police.
Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack and asked the authorities concerned to provide the best available medical treatment to the injured.
The bombing was claimed by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a statement sent to AFP, in which it threatened more attacks on police in retaliation for killing their "associates" in Punjab. He also directed to intensify search, sweep, combing and intelligence operations as well as beefing up security at sensitive installations, educational institutes, places of worship and markets.
This is the first explosion targeting the provincial capital in 2018.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.