Pakistan: Suicide-bomber 'kills 45' in blast near Indian border

Death toll is expected to rise as 70 were injured in the explosion

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The Independent Online

At least 45 people have been killed and 70 injured in a blast thought to have been caused by a suicide bomber near a Pakistani paramilitary checkpoint on Sunday, close to the country’s border with India.

The death toll from the explosion at the Wagah border crossing is likely to rise as more than 70 people were injured, with several in critical conditions, Inspector General of Punjab police, Mushtaq Sukhera, said.

Hundreds of people visit the Wagah border crossing near the Pakistani city of Lahore to watch a daily ceremony when troops from both sides simultaneously lower the two nations’ flags, officials said.

Women, children and paramilitary solders are among the dead and wounded.

“I was sitting in my office near the border when I heard the blast. I rushed to the scene and saw scattered bodies, injured men, women and children and smashed cars,” a Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters news agency.

Guards march in parallel lines at the border separating Pakistan and India.

Police are investigating the attack. Mr Sukhera said “according to initial information it was a suicide attack”.

“When […] security was a bit relaxed, the suicide attacker blew himself up near a restaurant,” he told local TV channels.

The Indian side of the border crossing was not affected by the bomb. Ashok Kumar, Inspector General of India’s Border Security Force, said: “Our side is safe, we are alert, we have increased our security, we are in constant touch with district officials and state police.”

Security has been increased in all major Pakistani cities to shut down any possible planned attacks on minority Shiite Muslims observing Ashura, a 10-day ritual to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Police said there were no such processions in the area and officials do not know what the intended target was. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.