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Scores Killed In Apparent Suicide Attack At India-Pakistan Border

Locals crowd around the bodies of victims from a suicide bomb attack, at a hospital in Lahore on Sunday.
Rahat Dar
Locals crowd around the bodies of victims from a suicide bomb attack, at a hospital in Lahore on Sunday.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

A suspected suicide bomb attack on the Pakistani side of a tense border post with India has killed at least 45 people and wounded another 100, a senior official says.

"According to initial information it was a suicide attack," Inspector General of Punjab Police, Mushtaq Sukhera, told local television channels, according to Reuters.

"When ... security was a bit relaxed, the suicide attacker blew himself up near a restaurant," Sukhera said, who said many more were wounded.

He said on Pakistan television that 45 were dead and about 100 others wounded.

Reuters quotes an Ashok Kumar, inspector-general of India's Border Security Force as saying that the Indian side of the Wagah border crossing is secure.

"Our side is safe, we are alert, have increased our security, we are in constant touch with district officials and state police," Kumar said, according to Reuters.

NPR's Philip Reeves, reporting from Islamabad, says the bomb detonated in the crowd following an elaborate military parade. In Wagah, crowds of spectators from both India and Pakistan gather nightly to watch goose-stepping border guards perform a ritualized and choreographed routine aimed at intimidation.

The blast occurred next to a row of cafes and caused chaos and panic, Reeves says. The victims included children.

The attack comes in the Pakistan military's fifth month of a major offensive against the Taliban in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Many suspect the attack was the work of the Pakistani Taliban, suspicions that have been reinforced by several reported claims of responsibility from Taliban-linked groups, Philip says.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the two countries became independent in 1947. For decades, India has accused Pakistan of arming and training jihadist groups in Indian-controlled Kashmir, a claim Islamabad has repeatedly rejected.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.