At least 55 people, including children and security personnel, were killed and about 200 others injured in a powerful suicide blast in Pakistan at Wagah on Sunday, minutes after the popular flag- lowering ceremony at the main Indo-Pak land border crossing.
Officials said that it was a suicide attack.
“A large number of people were returning after watching Rangers flag ceremony at Wagah border when a suicide bomber blew himself up near one of the exit gates,” Inspector General Police of Punjab Police Mushtaq Sukhera said. He said three Pakistan Rangers personnel were also among the dead.
To a question about security arrangements, he said, “The Rangers had made stringent security measures but it was difficult to check suicide bomber.”
While Express News said al-Qaeda affiliated group Jandullah claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported that the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a response to the Pakistani army’s actions against their positions in tribal areas straddling Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
Huge crowds gather every evening at the crossing, 22 kilometres from Lahore, to watch a “lowering of the flags” ceremony and witness the display of military pageantry that accompanies the formal closing of the border post which soldiers from both countries have conducted for decades.
Earlier reports had said it could be a cylinder blast.
In the wake of Muharram, the police had made strict security measures. “We had reports that some banned outfits might target Shias, religious personalities, public processions and important buildings,” Sukhera said.
“Our teams have confirmed that it was a suicide blast,” he added. The IG said that the suicide bomber was stopped at the gate of the parade ground at the border and detonated the bomb right when people gathered near the gate.
“Up to five kilogrammes of explosive material was used in the blast,” Sukhera said.
The suicide bombing took place in a car park on the Pakistani side at least 500 meters from the border with India. No Indian troops were hurt in the attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the Lahore blast and ordered the authorities concerned to provide best medical facilities to the injured.