The death toll in the horrific suicide attack that shook Pakistan minutes after the popular flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah climbed to 61 today, even as security agencies arrested about 20 suspects from the Indo-Pak border area.
Ten women, eight children and three security personnel were among the 61 people who have died in the attack that took place yesterday when a suicide attacker detonated a powerful bomb at Wagah.
Over 100 people were injured in the incident and are being treated in different Lahore’s hospitals where emergency has been declared.
The blast took place when a large number of people were returning after attending the flag lowering ceremony at the main Indo-Pak land border crossing, which is heavily guarded by the Punjab Rangers.
A young suicide-bomber blew himself up near the main exit gate of Parade Avenue at 6.03 pm (local time), causing colossal devastation.
“The death toll of the devastating suicide attack at Wagah border has risen to 61. The condition of some injured is still critical and the doctors are battling to save their lives,” Punjab Emergency Services Rescue spokesman Jam Sajjad told PTI.
About 43 bodies have been handed over to the families while the remaining are yet to be recognised, Sajjad said.
“We have sought the help of the National Registration Database Authority (Nadra) for recognition of 18 bodies,” he said.
The law enforcement agencies have launched operation in the residential areas in Wagah and taken about 20 suspects into custody, Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider Naqvi said.
“A joint investigation team of police, rangers and intelligence agencies have started its probe into the incident. The army and rangers along with police will provide security to Ashura processions in Lahore and they have been put on high alert in the wake of Sunday’s attack,” he said.
Punjab Interior Minister Col (Retd) Shujah Khanzada said the target of the suicide bomber was the venue of the flag hoisting ceremony.
“The suicide-bomber wanted to reach the Parade Avenue to cause maximum devastation but he blew himself up near the entrance of the main gate after failing to reach the Parade Avenue,” he said.
At least three militant factions have claimed the grizzly bombing. Al-Qaeda affiliated militant group Jandullah, a splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was first to claim responsibility of the attack.
Shortly afterwards Jamaatul Ahrar said its bomber Hafiz Hanifullah carried out the attack. Later, a lesser-known Mahar Mehsud group also claimed responsibility for the bombing.