SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- A suicide bomber killed at least 55 people Sunday at the main Pakistan-India border crossing, the blast tearing through crowds of spectators leaving after the colorful daily ceremony to close the frontier.
The explosion, which wounded more than 120, 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 55 people have been killed and more than 120 wounded. Women and children were also killed,” Mushtaq Sukhera, the Punjab provincial police chief, told AFP.
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.