Islamabad, Nov 2:
At least 48 people were killed and over 100 others injured when a teenaged suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday evening near the Wagah border in Pakistan’s Lahore district, officials said.
Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera said a suspected 18-year-old suicide bomber blew up his explosive jacket around 5.50 p.m. in a crowd of people who were returning after witnessing a flag-lowering ceremony at the international border with India, Xinhua reported.
Pakistan Rangers Director General Tahir Javed Khan put the toll at 48.
The blast took place outside a restaurant near the first gate of the venue where the ceremony is held. The flag ceremony is held daily and is attended by hundreds of people on both the Pakistan and Indian sides.
Militant outfit Jundallah (soldiers of god) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police said at least five kg of explosives along with ball bearings were used in the blast.
Three Pakistan Rangers personnel – who were responsible for the security of the venue – were among those killed, and five others injured.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Governor Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar condemned the attack and urged the authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the wounded.
Earlier reports said it was a gas cylinder blast in a restaurant, but police confirmed it was a suicide bombing.
Ghurki Trust Hospital medical superintendent Khurram Shehzad said at least 11 women and seven children were among those killed.
Rescue teams and police rushed to the site and shifted the bodies and the injured to hospitals. They cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.
Emergency has been declared in all state-run hospitals in Lahore. The hospitals have appealed to the public for blood donations.
Police later said they have found the head and legs of the suicide bomber.
Many vehicles parked nearby were damaged.
The Jundallah outfit is based in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region along the Afghan border and is believed responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in the country.
The group was involved in the Sep 22, 2013 twin suicide bombing at a church in Peshawar that left 127 people dead and over 250 others injured.