'Security of Sikh pilgrims visiting Lahore to be ensured'

Islamabad: The security of over 2,000 Sikh pilgrims, who are scheduled to arrive in Lahore city via the Wagah railway station Tuesday for the three-day birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, will be ensured, an official said Monday.

"The suicide attack at Wagah looks like a security lapse and I will ensure this does not happen again, particularly when over 2,000 Sikh pilgrims arrive at the Wagah Railway Station," Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Siddiqul Farooq said.

"I have also urged Railways Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique to check the trains, which will bring all the pilgrims," Dawn online quoted Farooq as saying.

Over 110 people were injured Sunday when a teenaged suicide bomber blew himself up at the Wagah border.

There were conflicting reports on the blast toll. Some media reports said that the toll was 59, while others put the number of dead at 60.

Farooq said it was possible that the target was the main ceremony area, where a large crowd had gathered.

"The suicide bomber was stopped at the second of two checkposts leading to the ceremony area, where he blew himself up," he added.

When asked how the incident took place despite an intelligence report of a young suicide bomber having entered Lahore Sunday, Farooq said law enforcement agencies were doing their best to avoid any untoward incident.

"But when a large crowd gathers somewhere, no one expects a terrorist entering from anywhere," he said.

"It was possible that the terrorist reached the spot through the nearby fields," he added.

"I don't believe that the incident may result in cancellation of the Sikh celebrations".

"I would contact Indian authorities and assure them of best security and logistic arrangements for the pilgrims during their stay in Pakistan," he concluded.

The pilgrims would visit the Nankana Sahib gurudwara, Hassan Abdal and other cities to pay respects to their religious and spiritual leaders.

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