45 killed in suicide blast at Pakistan-India border

2014-11-02 20:27


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lahore - A suicide bomber killed at least 45 people on Sunday at the main Pakistan-India border crossing, the blast tearing through crowds of spectators leaving after the colourful daily ceremony to close the frontier.

The blast came at Wagah border gate near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore after the "flag-lowering" ceremony, a display of military pageantry that attracts thousands of spectators every day and is popular with foreign tourists.

The attack is a rare strike in Punjab, Pakistan's richest and most populous province and powerbase of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has been spared the worst of the bloody wave of Islamist violence that has assailed the country in recent years.

"It appears to have been a suicide attack. At least 45 people have been killed, women and children were also killed," Mushtaq Sukhera, the Punjab provincial police chief, told AFP. At least 60 were wounded in the blast.

Lahore police chief Amin Wains confirmed it was a suicide attack.

"People were returning after watching the parade at Wagah border when the blast took place. Ball bearings were found at the scene," he said.

Huge crowds gather on both sides at Wagah each sunset to see the display of military pageantry that accompanies the formal closing of the border post. It appears the blast took place some distance from the border itself.

Tahir Javed, Punjab provincial commander of the Rangers paramilitary force that guards the post, said three of his men had been killed.

"The suicide bomber failed to cross the security barrier and blew himself up outside when people were coming out," he said.

There are several security checkpoints on the road leading to the border post, which is equipped with a ceremonial gate and banked seating, and spectators are frisked before entering, though such searches are not always particularly rigorous.

Years of bloodshed

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Pakistan has been wracked by a homegrown Taliban insurgency that has killed thousands of people in recent years.

But attacks, once a near-daily occurrence, have tailed off since the army launched a major anti-militant offensive in the northwest.

In June the army began a long-awaited operation against militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area, after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.

More than 1 100 militants and 100 soldiers have been killed since the start of the operation and more than 100 militants have surrendered, according to the military.

The Pakistani authorities have also said they are becoming concerned about the possible spread of the influence of the Islamic State group, which has declared a "caliphate" in parts of Iraq and Syria.

As well as being one of restive Pakistan's few tourist attractions, Wagah is also the main land crossing with India and much of their trade transits through it.

The neighbours have had frosty relations since independence from Britain in 1947, fighting three full wars, two over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

Sunday's attack comes amid heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours after a resurgence of cross-border shelling along the disputed frontier in Kashmir.

It also comes with Pakistan on high security alert for the festival of Ashura, which is marked by minority Shiite Muslims with mourning processions that are potential targets for sectarian militants.

Last year saw deadly clashes erupt in the capital Islamabad's twin city Rawalpindi.

Read more on:    pakistan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.