Naseer Azam / AFP / Getty Images

Taliban splinter group claims Pakistan-India border attack

Jamaat Al-Ahrar, a Pakistani breakaway group from the Taliban, says assault was revenge for military operations

Pakistanis mourned on Monday for the victims of a massive suicide bombing near the border with India as the death toll from the explosion the previous day rose to 60, police said.

Jamaat Al-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest to hit the country in over a year. In September 2013, a suicide bombing killed at least 85 people in a church in Peshawar province.

The group said Saturday’s attack was carried out in revenge for the Pakistani military’s operations in North Waziristan and the killing of fellow fighters there.

Al-Ahrar broke away from the Taliban in August, after several commanders had a falling out with the rest of the Taliban’s leadership.

"We will continue such attacks," Ahsanullah Ahsan, the group's spokesman, told The Associated Press. Other groups have also claimed credit for the attack, but Ahsan told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn that those "claims are baseless."  

Pakistan has experienced a lull in attacks since mid-June, when the military launched a major offensive against fighters in North Waziristan, a restive tribal area in the northwest that borders Afghanistan. The army says its offensive has killed over 1,200 insurgents.

Al-Ahrar’s attack on Sunday targeted a military ceremony on the border of Pakistan and India. The two countries hold daily parades and flag-flying ceremonies on their respective sides of the border. The parades are meant to be a show of strength between the foes — the two nuclear-power nations have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947. 

The events draw crowds of hundreds on weekdays and thousands on weekends.

“The most logical explanation at this state, until we know more about it, is this was an ideal target because you could do maximum damage in a place which is paradoxically very unprotected," Frederic Grare, director and senior associate of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Al Jazeera.

“It’s difficult to give it any particular anti-Indian meaning because it did kill people on the Pakistani side," he said. "I don't think we should read too much into it at this stage."

In fact, Reuters, citing Ashok Kumar, inspector general of India's Border Security Force, reported that the suicide blast did not impact India.

In addition to the 60 people killed, Sunday's attack also wounded more than 100 others, who were still hospitalized, said police official Nadeem Khokhar. Relatives of those killed cried and wailed outside Lahore hospitals and police stations on Monday, demanding the bodies of the victims be handed over to their families for burial.

Pakistan went ahead with its daily parade near the Indian border on Monday, despite initially announcing the event would be cancelled for the next three days.

"Such cowardly attacks cannot defeat us and our nation," Gen. Naveed Zaman said during Monday's ceremony near the Wagah crossing. He thanked "thousands who have come here to defy the terrorists' designs."

India cancelled its ceremony for three days, according to Ashok Kumar, an official with the Indian Border Security Force. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack, describing it as a "dastardly act of terrorism." 

The fighters in North Waziristan – including the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated armed groups – have been waging a war against Pakistan’s government for over a decade, killing thousands of people in the process.

Al Jazeera and wire services. Philip J. Victor contributed to this report. 

Related News

India, Pakistan

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


India, Pakistan

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter