55 killed in suicide blast
A suicide bomber killed at least 55 people at the main Pakistan-India border crossing; the blast tearing through crowds of spectators leaving after the colourful daily ceremony to close the frontier.
The explosion, which wounded more than 120, came at Wagah border gate near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore after the "flag-lowering" ceremony, a display of military pageantry that attracts thousands of spectators every day and is popular with foreign tourists.
"It appears to have been a suicide attack. At least 55 people have been killed and more than 120 wounded. Women and children were also killed," Mushtaq Sukhera, the Punjab provincial police chief, told AFP.
Tahir Javed, Punjab provincial commander of the Rangers paramilitary force that guards the post, said three of his men had been killed.
"The suicide bomber failed to cross the security barrier and blew himself up outside when people were coming out," he said.
The dead and wounded were taken to Ghurki hospital, where distressed relatives, weeping and hugging each other in grief, searched for their loved ones.
"We were here to watch the parade and the blast took place, the moment we left the venue," Muhammad Imran, aged 12, told AFP as he looked for his three brothers at the hospital.
The dead included eight members of one family and five of another family, Muhammad Usman, a government official told AFP.
There were several conflicting claims of responsibility for the attack, reflecting the fragmentation the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) movement has undergone in recent weeks.
Abdullah Bahar, a spokesman for a TTP faction loyal to its dead chief Hakimullah Mehsud, said they carried it out to avenge Mehsud's killing in a US drone strike last year.
But the Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction, which broke away from the main TTP leadership in September, rubbished the claim and said they were behind the blast. It was a revenge for those killed in the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan tribal area, on the Afghan border, they added.
TV channels also ran claims from a third militant faction, called Jundullah.
Pakistan has been wracked by a homegrown Taliban insurgency that has killed thousands of people in recent years.
But attacks, once a near-daily occurrence, have tailed off since the army launched its anti-militant offensive in the northwest.
In June the army began the long-awaited operation against militant hideouts in North Waziristan after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and the Taliban.