New Delhi: India on Monday condemned the suicide blast near the Wagah-Attari border between India and Pakistan, which killed at least 55 people on the Pakistani side over the weekend causing trade between the two countries through Wagah to be halted temporarily.

“There is no grievance or political goal so great, as to justify such a cowardly act. We believe that only the firmest and most comprehensive action against all terror groups without any distinction is the only way to defeat this evil scourge," a foreign ministry said in a statement, describing the attack as a “dastardly terrorist attack against innocent civilians, mercilessly targeted by terrorists."

The blast killed many visitors leaving the colourful daily military ceremony to close the Wagah-Attari frontier post near Lahore.

The explosion, which wounded more than 120, was a rare attack in Punjab, Pakistan’s richest and most populous province and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s powerbase, the AFP news agency said. At least two different factions of the rebel Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility for the attack, the first major strike since the country’s army launched an offensive against militant strongholds in Pakistan’s tribal northwest in June.

The Wagah ceremony is one of Pakistan’s few genuine tourist attractions, drawing people from all walks of life.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a brief statement late Sunday described the attack as “shocking."

“I strongly condemn such a dastardly act of terrorism. My condolences to the families of the deceased. Prayers with the injured," Modi said.

India accuses Pakistan of fomenting terrorism in India, especially in Kashmir, which has been the cause of three of the four wars between the neighbours who share tense relations. Ties between the two countries have been frosty over shelling across the border in Kashmir in violation of a 2003 ceasefire pact between India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a PTI news report quoted a customs official from Amritsar as saying that movement through trucks carrying goods traded between the two countries had stopped temporarily.

Trade could remain suspended for a few days more if Pakistan expresses inability to restart the movement of goods.

“Efforts are being made to restore trade as early as possible from our side," the official said adding that extra checks are being introduced here in the wake of blast. “We are cautious and we are on high alert," he added.

India’s main exports to Pakistan are cotton, organic chemicals, food products including prepared animal fodder, vegetables, plastic articles, man-made filament, coffee, tea and spices, dyes and oil seeds, according to the foreign ministry’s website.

The main items imported by India from Pakistan are copper and copper articles, fruits and nuts, cotton, salt, sulphur and earths and stones, organic chemicals, mineral fuels, rubber plastic products and wool, the website said.

A PTI report from Islamabad said that India and Pakistan allowed the general public to view the popular flag-lowering ceremony at the border on Monday. Punjab Rangers spokesman Maj Shahid Abbas said that since the area had been cleared after collecting the forensic evidence from the blast site, “there was no point in closing the Parade Avenue for the public."

​Another report said at least 21 people, including a suicide-bomber, were arrested on Monday and explosives and a suicide vest recovered from Wagah border area as entire Pakistan was put on red alert, a day after the bombing. A Punjab Rangers official said that explosives and a suicide jacket had been found during a search operation in the area.

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