The flag-lowering ceremony that takes place at Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan every evening has been postponed until Thursday after the deadly suicide attack that killed at least 55 people and injured over 150 at the Wagah checkpoint on Sunday evening.
The blast occurred minutes after the popular flag- lowering ceremony at the main Indo-Pak land border crossing in Wagah, a town situated on the border with India and on the outskirts of Lahore.
On Monday, Indian customs officials told IANS that there was no trade activity from either side following’s Sunday’s blast and it is likely to remain suspended for another two days. Hundreds of trucks from both countries carry products, including fruits and vegetables, through the land border trade.
In fact, the lowering ceremony has been taking place for the last 55 years with members of Pakistan’s Rangers and India’s Border Security Force marching and lowering their countries’ flags. Every evening, both Indian and Pakistani soldiers would parade close to each other and present a grand military spectacle.
According to reports, Inspector General of police of Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera said, “A large number of people were returning after watching Rangers flag ceremony at Wagah border when a suicide bomber blew him up near one of the exit gates.” He said three Pakistani Rangers were among the dead.
Sukhera said, “The Rangers had made stringent security measures but it was difficult to check suicide bomber”.
According to officials, it was a suicide attack and at least 55 people, including women, children and security personnel, had been killed and 200 had sustained injuries.
The 20-year-old bomber was reportedly carrying 20 to 25 kilograms of explosives with him, some of which was hidden inside his jacket. As per reports, “It appears that he (the bomber) is a young man of 20-25 years. At least 15 to 20 kilogram explosives have been used in the blast, showing some of the explosives was in his suicide jacket and remaining he might have carried.”
Amid, according to reports, Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group Jandullah, which was behind a suicide bombing that killed at least 78 Christians at a church in Peshawar September last year, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday strongly condemned the suicide bombing at the Wagah border in Pakistan.
On his micro blogging site, Modi tweeted, “Terror attack in Pakistan near Wagah Border is shocking. I strongly condemn such a dastardly act of terrorism.” He said, “My condolences to the families of the deceased. Prayers with the injured.”
However, Sukhera said they had reports that some banned outfits might target Shias, religious personalities, public processions and important buildings and said that the police had made strict security measures.