FOREIGN Affairs Minister John Baird on Monday said that Canada strongly condemns Sunday’s terrorist attack near the Wagah border crossing between Pakistan and India that has left at least 59 people dead and wounded well over 100.
He said: “This heinous attack, which occurred before the day of Ashura, was clearly meant to target civilians who had gathered to view the iconic flag-lowering ceremony that takes place daily at the border post.
“I welcome the statements of condemnation from Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the call from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for an immediate investigation into this despicable act.
“This attack underscores the need for continued, determined action against all terrorist groups that prey on innocents. There is no cause for which terrorism is an appropriate instrument in the civilized world.
“On behalf of all Canadians, we send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by yesterday’s violence.”
MEANWHILE, India and Pakistan held a daily military ceremony at Wagah, a day after a suicide attack there killed dozens of people.
At least 60 people were killed and more than 120 injured when a young suicide bomber wearing a suicide vest blew himself up not far from the Wagah border.
The deafening explosion tore through scores of men, women and children returning from the daily flag lowering ceremony held at the border by the Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Force (BSF).
The event, popular on both sides of the border, draws an unusually high number of visitors, tourists included, on Sundays.
The Nation newspaper quoted a survivor, Asif Rashid, as saying that the blast, just 10 minutes after the ceremony, was “huge, very powerful”.
“It was like doomsday. I saw it with my eyes,” he said at the Services Hospital where he was taken to treat minor injuries on his foot. The man had gone to the border with his wife to see the ceremony.
Another witness described the bombing as terrible and appalling.
“I rushed to the scene and saw scattered bodies, human flesh, injured men, women and children on the road,” the witness, identified only as Khan, told the Nation.
Pakistani media reported that a state of high alert had been declared across Punjab.
News reports said that the dead included three Pakistan Rangers personnel and 13 members of two families.
After the explosions, relatives of the victims were seen urging people to donate blood.
“It was a suicide attack. The bomber had been waiting for the people outside the parade venue and he detonated his explosives minutes after the ceremony ended,” Rangers Director General Tahir Javaid Khan said.
A bomb disposal squad officer said at least seven kilograms of “very high quality” explosives were used in the bomb packed with ball bearings and iron shrapnel.
The responsibility for the attack was claimed separately by the Jundullah and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan-affiliated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar outfits.
Prime Minister Sharif condemned the bombing — the attack was also denounced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US — and said that military operations against Islamist militants would continue.
Punjab Law Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman claimed the suicide bomber managed to cross four security checkposts.
Two of the four posts had been set up after a threat to the event was reported by intelligence agencies Sunday morning.