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52 killed, 200 injured in suicide attack at Wagah border in Pakistan

WAGAH BORDER: At least 52 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 suicide attack and at least 52 people had been killed and 200 had sustained injuries.

“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 of Punjab Police Mushtaq Sukhera said. He said three Pakistan Rangers personnel were also among the dead.

To a question about security arrangements, Sukhera said, “The Rangers had made stringent security measures but it was difficult to check suicide bomber.” The al-Qaeda affiliated group Jandullah has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Huge crowds gather every evening at the crossing, 22 kilometres from Lahore, to watch a “lowering of the flags” ceremony and witness the energetic display of military pageantry that accompanies the formal closing of the border post which soldiers from both countries have conducted for decades.

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.

He said, “Our teams have confirmed that it was a suicide blast.” 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 bomb exploded outside a restaurant near a Pakistani paramilitary soldiers’ checkpoint at Wagah border,” he added.