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Dozens Killed In Blast Along India-Pakistan Border

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A routine ceremony yesterday turned deadly on the border between Pakistan and India. A suicide bombing there killed at least 54 people and injured more than a hundred - more now from NPR's Philip Reeves.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: The crowd was attacked as it was going home. They'd just been to see an exotic spectacle that's famous worldwide. Every day, shortly before sunset, the border crossing between Pakistan and India closes down with a military ceremony. Soldiers on both sides lower their national flags. They strut, stamp, glare each other and perform high kicks. Thousands in India and Pakistan go along to watch and hold a shouting match as the border gates are slammed shut. That's how the parade at likely sounded yesterday. But on the Pakistani side, the festivities came to a terrible halt soon after the ceremony ended.

The suicide bomber detonated by some cafes a few hundred yards from the border, causing chaos and panic. As they try to find out who's behind the bombing, Pakistan's security agencies are facing some tough questions. Government officials are reportedly saying that there were warnings about a possible attack in the area. There've been several claims of responsibility - all purporting to be from Islamist militant groups. Pakistan's military is in the fifth month of a big offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Information from the war zone is sparse but it is believed that the militants are taking a big hit. It's widely suspected this bombing is the Taliban's reply. The attack's having an alarming side effect - relations between Pakistan and India are going through an unusually rough patch. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the bombing. This hasn't deterred some Pakistani commentators from suggesting India was somehow involved, without supplying evidence. Philip Reeves, NPR News, Islamabad.

GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.