LAHORE: Questions were asked on Sunday whether the concentration of the civil administration and the law-enforcement agencies in the main city due to Muharram processions and majalis had made Wagah Border a relatively easier target for the suicide attack.
The attack shook the civil administration and the police banking on the army and Rangers for support in case of any major law and order situation. It also made them reinforce security arrangements to avert any such incident.
The incident terrified people and calls were made asking them to be more careful during Ashura processions.
Official sources in the Punjab government said a warning was issued four days ago, indicating a suicide strike at security personnel.
The incident made the administration and organisers of Muharram processions to revise their security plans. “The Muharram security is the top-most priority at this time of the year and everybody in the government is combat-ready. We have devised best possible security arrangements,” a senior official said.
He advised people to remain vigilant and inform the police about the presence of any suspicious person or thing around them, adding everybody should join hands against the threat.
WARNING: Law-enforcement agencies had been alerted about the mode of possible attack at Wagah Border, an official told Dawn.
They were informed about a missing young boy who might be used as would-be suicide bomber.
“The blast site marked by the anti-state elements has surprised the police experts investigating the incident as it is the first incident of its kind in the high-security Rangers zone,” the official said.
Lahore CCPO Capt Amin Waince said the police had conveyed the threat about possible suicide attack to the Rangers at Wagah Border on Saturday night. The suicide bomber appeared to be in his early 20s and his hair and tongue had been sent for forensic analysis.
The police and Rangers were of the view that the terrorist blew himself up when he failed to reach the main parade venue.
DG Rangers Tahir Khan denied allegation of security lapse. “Had there been any loophole, the damage would have been much greater,” he said.
“No less than 6,000 people were present at the main venue for parade when the blast took place,” Rangers Public Relations Officer Maj Ijaz told Dawn. He said the incident took place 600 meters away from the main venue and it was close to Pak-India trade ground.
“The blast took place when several people were enjoying snacks at the shops of Civil Market,” he said, adding that the suicide bomber could not enter the parade ground due to security measures.
Meanwhile, police officials clarified that they had not issued any sketch of the suicide bomber as was broadcast by some private TV channels. A spokesman for the Lahore police said they had yet to find the head of the suicide bomber so there was no question of issuing his sketch.
A source said the suicide bomber might be of sleeping cell of some banned outfit. “Usually people in the sleeping cell have no criminal record,” he added.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2014