Updated: November 3, 2014 12:48:56 pm
At least 55 people, including children and security personnel, were killed and 200 injured in a powerful blast set off by a suicide bomber at Wagah in Pakistan on Sunday, minutes after the popular flag-lowering ceremony at the Indo-Pak border.
Officials said that it was a suicide attack. The explosion occurred in the parking area of the Wagah border. Pakistani Rangers have cordoned off the blast site.
Al-Qaeda affiliated group Jandullah has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Express News. TV footage showed shops and nearby buildings destroyed.
Terror attack in Pakistan near Wagah Border is shocking. I strongly condemn such a dastardly act of terrorism.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 2, 2014
An emergency has been declared at hospitals in Lahore. “We received 35 bodies including those of women and children and 60 to 70 were wounded,” Deputy Medical Superintendent of Ghurki Hospital near the Wagah border, identified only as Dr Khurram, told TV channels.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for a report on the incident.
Wagah is the only road border crossing between Amritsar and Lahore. Huge crowds gather every day at the crossing to watch a “lowering of the flags” ceremony which soldiers from both countries have conducted for decades.
Inspector General, Punjab Police, Mushtaq Sukhera said, the attacker approached the gate as the crowd was vacating the parade area where the flag ceremony is held. “Our teams have confirmed that it was a suicide blast,” he said.
Earlier reports had said it could be a cylinder blast.
The IG said the bomber was stopped at the gate of the parade ground and detonated the bomb right there.
“A large number of people were returning after watching the Rangers parade ceremony when a suicide bomber blew himself up near one of the exit gates,” Sukhera said. He said three Rangers personnel were also among the dead.
“Up to 5 kg of explosive material was used,” Sukhera said. To a question about security arrangements, he said, “The Rangers had made stringent security measures but it is difficult to check a suicide bomber.”
Imdad Husain, an eyewitness, told reporters that he was returning after watching the parade ceremony when he heard a bang.
“I fell unconscious. When I gained consciousness, there was darkness. Many injured and I cried for help, lying on the road. After 15 minutes, some rescue men shifted me to Ghurki Hospital,” he said.
Samina Bibi was also returning along with her husband and two young children when the blast took place. On the bed of the Ghurki
Hospital, she was crying and asking the doctors about her husband and children. “The doctors were comforting her saying they are alright,” Imdad said.
Punjab Emergency Services Rescue 1122 spokesman Jam Sajjad told PTI the death toll could rise.
Wagah suicide attack. Jandullah claims responsibility. Terms it retaliation to Op. Zarb-e-Azb. Militants v/s women & children. What logic.
— Sana Bucha (@sanabucha) November 2, 2014
“We have shifted about 200 injured to different hospitals of Lahore,” he said. Quoting a senior doctor at Ghurki Hospital, he said the condition of over a dozen was critical.