A powerful and deadly bomb blast ripped through a protest rally in the busy Mall Road in Lahore, Pakistan, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens a local emergency rescue service said.
The explosion on Monday 13th February, rocked a protest organised by Pakistan's chemist and pharmaceuticals manufacturers outside the provincial assembly building. It was attended by hundreds of pharmacists who were protesting new amendments to a law governing drug sales.
Sameer Ahmad, the Lahore deputy commissioner, confirmed at least 11 people had been killed and 58 wounded, including nine who were in critical condition.
Two senior police officers, including a former provincial counterterrorism chief, were among those killed, police said. There are fears that the death toll will rise further.
The attack has been claimed by a breakaway Taliban faction named Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, who state it was revenge for Pakistani military operations against Islamic militants in tribal regions.
Witnesses narrate that a suicide bomber on a motorcycle purposefully drove into a police vehicle, resulting in a violent explosion which could be heard several kilometers away.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the attack: "Terrorism isn't a novelty for us. Our story has been one of constant struggle against its grasp and a fight for the soul of Pakistan," he said in a statement.
"We have fought this fight against the terrorists among us, and will continue to fight it until we liberate our people of this cancer and avenge those who have laid down their lives for us."
Lahore has been repeatedly targeted by militants in recent years.
In March 2016, around 69 people, including young children, were killed in an explosion in Lahore. The park where the terrorist attack took place was crowded with families, some celebrating Easter.
SHOPPING CENTRE ON HIGH ALERT: A suspect wearing a fake suicide belt was detained at the scene(pic credit: @Will90lfc’s Twitter)
Brussels in lockdown after phoney terrorist sparks chaos
Brussels was once again in high alert after a terror suspect sparked a false bomb alert after strapping a device full of 'salt and biscuits' around his waist.
Belgians have feared a terrorist attack since November, in the wake of the massacres in Paris that killed 130 people, with extra police and military mobilised.
The capital of Belgium is also still reeling from attacks on 22nd March, when Deash bombers targeted a Brussels airport and subway, killing 32 people.
Police descended on the City2 Shopping Mall in the heart of the city and taped off surrounding roads, while five underground stations were also in lock down.
A suspect was detained at the scene and armed police were called in amid reports he told officers he was wearing a bomb vest.
Belgian authorities now say the man was not carrying explosives.
Ine Van Wymersch, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutors' office later said the suspect 'is being questioned at the moment' and added 'there were no explosives’.
The incident comes a week after anti-terrorism investigators were alerted to the possibility that small groups of Daesh extremists had left Syria for France and Belgium with plans to stage attacks, including inside shopping malls.
Belgian authorities have also charged three men with 'attempted terrorist murder' after raiding dozens of homes linked to a reported threat to fans during a Euro 2016 football game.
TALIBAN ATTACK: There has been no claim of responsibility but Pakistan has been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past
Officials have reported at least 15 people travelling on a bus have been killed and dozens injured by a bomb in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar.
The vehicle was carrying government employees from nearby areas to the city and was passing a busy main road with heaving morning traffic when the bomb went off.
The top part of the bus had blown off.
Police say the blast was caused by an improvised device which apparently detonated inside the bus.
There has been no claim of responsibility, but Peshawar has frequently been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past.
A medical source told Reuters news agency around 30 others were injured with many in a critical condition and were being treated at Lady Reading hospital.
In a statement published on the website of state-run Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of life. He said ‘such cowardly acts could not deter our resolve to weed out terrorism from the country’.
The blast happened in an unstable area of the country where Pakistani forces have increased their campaign against the Taliban and other militant groups which border alongside Afghanistan.
That campaign followed the attack at an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014 where 150 people were killed, most of them children.
Tensions in Pakistan continue to intensify as sporadic attacks by militant groups on security forces and civilian targets persist.
It was only last week when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded court in Shabqadar Bazaar in the Charsadda district.
17 people were killed and 31 others injured. The Taliban termed the bombing as ‘revenge’ for the execution of the killer of liberal Punjab province governor, Salman Taseer.
UN SECRETARY GENERAL: Ban Ki-moon urges political parties to put Syria above ‘partisan interests’
Death toll reaches 70 after suicide bombing
The Sayeda Zeinab district in Damascus, home to Syria's holiest Shi'ite shrine, was targeted by Daesh on Sunday.
Two suicide bombers and a car bomb detonated as representatives of Syria's government and its divided opposition began conversations in Geneva in an attempt to start the first peace talks in two years.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, described the talks as long overdue. He said on a visit to Ethiopia: “I urge all parties to put the people of Syria at the heart of their discussions, and above partisan interests.”
The death toll from the three blasts in Damascus - claimed by the Islamic State militant group - has risen to more than 70, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Contacts on the ground from the British-based Observatory said the attack had targeted a military bus carrying militiamen who were changing guard, and that 42 of the dead were fighters allied to the government.
The Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah and other Iraqi and Iranian militias have a strong presence in Sayeda Zeinab, which is a site of pilgrimage for Shi'ites from Lebanon, Iran, and other parts of the Muslim world.
Bashar al-Jaafari, representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations, said in his first briefing to journalists that Damascus was willing to ‘discuss’ humanitarian issues.
The first aim of the talks was to stop Turkey and Jordan allowing foreign fighters into Syria, calling them ‘genetically modified’.
He said: “There are foreign powers endorsing foreign agendas, aiming at making political pressure on the Syrian government by using terrorism as a political weapon.”
While much of the Syrian leadership is drawn from an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, Islamic State practices a radical version of Sunni Islam and considers other sects to be heretical.
Security in the area has been notably tightened with roadblocks and heavy clashes have been witnessed in the first few years of the war, prompting the army and allied Shi'ite militias to become an ever-present force.
POLITICAL STATEMENT: The bomb was detonated outside Burger King and Starbucks
Coffee chain in Indonesia targeted by Daesh
The capital of Indonesia was rocked on Wednesday 14th January by up to seven huge explosions and gun battles on the streets.
The blasts were centred in Jakarta, around Thamrin Street, a major business and shopping district that is close to foreign embassies and the United Nations offices.
Police say the situation was soon under control, with five suspected attackers among at least seven people killed in the attacks.
A news agency linked to Daesh said it carried out the atrocity.
Separately, Indonesian police said they suspected a local group allied to Daesh was to blame.
Risky Julianti, 25, a sales promoter at the Sarinah Mall, had just arrived at work and was changing into her uniform when the first explosion went off. She told the Guardian that she heard at least five more blasts and saw three people dead.
“The building was shaking heavily when the blast happened. An office boy shouted ‘bomb, bomb’ and we quickly ran out to a church nearby. I was very panicked and I was crying. We heard the blasts as we were running to the church.
“We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people,” he said.
Gunfire could reportedly be heard after police arrived at the cafe. Later, there were several further explosions and reports of police chasing suspects. For several hours afterwards, intermittent gunfire was reported.
A UN official, Jeremy Douglas, told the BBC he was about 150m away from one of the first blasts near the UN's building.
He said: “Then we ran into the building. We heard a third explosion. We got up to our office on the tenth floor and we heard a fourth, a fifth and a sixth.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo described the attacks as an ‘act of terror’.
He said: “This act is clearly aimed at disturbing public order and spreading terror among people. The state, the nation and the people should not be afraid of, and lose to, such terror acts.”
Tributes continue to pour in for the Pakistani teenager who is being hailed a ‘hero’ and ‘braveheart’ as was killed when he tackled a suicide bomber targeting his school.
15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan, was with friends outside his school in the Ibrahimzai area of Hangu district, when they spotted a man wearing a suicide vest. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance at the time of the attack.
Despite the pleas of his fellow students, he decided to confront and capture the bomber who then detonated his vest.
HERO: 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan intercepted a suicide bomber outside his school saving the lives of some 2,000 children
There have even been calls for him to receive the highest award for his courage.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recommended a bravery award – the Sitara-e-Shujjat, which can only be awarded once Pakistan's president has approved it.
"Shaheed Aitizaz's brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students and established a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism," a statement from the prime minister's office said.
The Minister for Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province Shah Farman, said on Thursday that Aitzaz was a "real hero and true face of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa".
Local authorities have also said they will offer compensation for Aitzaz's family.
His family insist that rather than focus on the sorrow brought about by his death, they want to focus on their pride in his actions.
On Twitter, users have been paying tribute to Aitzaz using the hashtags #onemillionaitzaz and #AitzazBraveheart echoing the language used online around figures such as Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the Delhi rape victim, whose death galvanised Indian public opinion and prompted changes in rape laws there.
Hangu is close to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions, which have a strong Taliban and al-Qaeda presence and the area is also known for sectarian violence against Shia Muslims.
What people think .....
“Another innocent young brave soul sacrifices the ultimate gift of life to safeguard "others" that was the foundations of creation for both Pakistan and India
But what happened to our (Pakistanis) dreams and aspirations?Why is it that we the masses continue to suffer and still have to bear sacrifices whilst our elites lap in the glories of luxury gained through corruption and misdeeds?
I believe we are part of the problem as we continue to elect and support these blood thirsty hounds (Pakistani politicians).
When, and if, we gain our self-respect to hold those in power to account maybe young lives may not have to be lost so tragically, they may live happy and fulfilling lives to the good of humanity globally...”
Amjad Pervez, CEO Seafresh
“Aitzaz Hasan - the fifteen-year-old martyr, showed his nation and the rest of us that heroes are not only the super powered, cape-wearing, billionaire-type but are also the innocent and loving third world country kind.
In my opinion, the nature of Aitzaz’s departure from this world is one of the decade’s most saddening affairs, yet at the same time it creates a sense of awe and inspires us to an extent where our spine tingles and our heart warms.
We live in an era where our way of life as Muslims and Pakistanis is looked down upon on a daily basis. However thanks to the gallant actions of this young man, the world can change its perception of Muslims, like myself, as this is how we are meant to be, to put others first and strive to make the world a better place.
I strongly believe that this young man should be honoured around the world and be brought into the public eye of every nation, so that others are aware of his actions which will no doubt result in others gaining the courage to stand up to all those whom oppress the innocent.”
Mani Waheed, MD Squarefoot Apartments