A suicide bomber, believed to be from a Taliban-linked group killed 55 people and injured more than 100 inside Pakistan's Wagah border with India. The blast occurred outside a crowded restaurant soon after the flag lowering ceremony was completed in the evening. It is normally watched by huge crowds.
Lahore, Crescent online
Sunday November 2, 2014, 17:17 EST
At least 55 people have been killed and more than 150 injured in a suicide bombing close to Pakistan's only border crossing with India.
According to Pakistani police sources, the suicide bomber blew himself up outside a crowded restaurant near the checkpoint at the Wagah border crossing. The border crossing is near Lahore.
Two groups immediately claimed responsibility: Jundullah, a branch of the Pakistani Taliban, and Jamaat ul Ahrar. Both are banned in Pakistan.
An article on the BBC website noted November 2: “The Wagah crossing is a high-profile target, with large crowds gathering every day to watch an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony as the border closes.”
Imran Khan, head of Pakistan’s opposition party, Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by suicide attack nr Wagah border killing over 50 innocent ppl incl women & children. Strongly condemn this act of terror.”
“People were leaving after watching the parade in the evening. According to our initial reports, the bomber crossed one barrier and detonated himself in a crowd of people. That is why there are so many casualties,” said Mushtaq Sukhera, inspector general of police in the Punjab province.
Children and Pakistani paramilitary forces were among those who lost their lives. India’s Express News Service reported that the powerful explosion occurred in the parking area of the Wagah border between India and Pakistan minutes after the flag lowering-ceremony ended in the evening.
Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani politicians have taken to Twitter to express their reactions. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the act was “a dastardly act of terrorism.”
Imdad Husain, an eyewitness, told reporters that he was returning after watching the parade ceremony when he heard a bang near the Wagah border market.
“I fell unconscious. When I gained consciousness there was complete darkness. I cried for help lying on the road. After 15 minutes some rescue men came and shifted me to the Ghurki Hospital, a border area health facility,” he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the Lahore blast and ordered the authorities concerned to provide best medical facilities to the injured.
The al-Qaeda group Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that it was committed in retaliation for the Pakistani military’s attacks in the North West Frontier province.
However, as with any news involving the Taliban, this is highly murky—several foreign organizations and governments have a stake in the Pakistani “Taliban” franchise.
According to the Pakistani secular newspaper, Dawn, it received a message from Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Jundullah, who was quoted as saying that his group carried out the attack. He said there was a single suicide bomber and that claims by other groups were false.
He was also reported as saying the group would release a video of the suicide bomber to prove their group carried out the attack against what he described was retaliation for Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan.