Pakistan, India Vow Peace Despite Blast

Pakistan and India agreed that the grisly overnight attack on an Indian train traveling to Islamabad is aimed at derailing the peace process between the two nuclear countries, vowing to carry on with their peace drive.

Pakistan, India Vow Peace Despite Blast

"Such wanton acts of terrorism will only serve to further strengthen our resolve to attain the mutually desired objective of sustainable peace between the two countries," Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as saying.

"We will not allow elements which want to sabotage the ongoing peace process succeed in their nefarious designs."

Sixty-six people burned to death after explosions ripped through the "Friendship Express" train from India to Pakistan overnight.

The blast was caused by two homemade bombs. Indian police say a dozen unexploded kerosene bottles had also been recovered, and two other bombs had been defused.

Musharraf also called on New Delhi to punish those responsible for the blast as officials here said most of the 66 who died were Pakistani citizens.

In the first reaction to the blast, the Indian government said the blast was aimed at disrupting fruitful peace talks between the two neighbors.

"The intention is clear -- it is an effort to destabilize peace between India, Pakistan. Innocent people have been killed," said Indian Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said the "horrendous act of terrorism" would not affect his previously announced plans for a visit to India, which begins Tuesday.

"Most of the dead are Pakistanis but I would like to reserve my comment," Kasuri told reporters. "I would like the Indian government to investigate this incident."

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid said it was unlikely to affect the peace process.

"I don't think such incidents can affect bilateral relations now," he told a private television channel.

Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since independence basically on the Kashmir province, launched a peace process in January 2004. India suspended talks for several months after an attack on commuter trains in Mumbai last July that left 185 dead.

The cross-border train service symbolizes rapprochement between the estranged neighbors.

The Friendship Express was suspended in 2002 after war-like tensions following an attack on India's parliament in December 2001 by a suspected Pakistan-backed group. It was restarted in January 2004.


Survivors told Monday how a ball of fire incinerated dozens of passengers and reduced two carriages of the train to charred wrecks.

Kamaruddin, 60, from Multan in Pakistan, said chaos spread quickly through the train after a deadly cocktail of kerosene and explosives went off.

"I was sitting towards the end of one of the two coaches when I heard a deafening sound within few feet away from me," Kamaruddin told AFP.

"The whole place was full of smoke and I could hear a lot of people screaming for help but I could not move."

He was taken unconscious from the scene at Deewana and awoke at a nearby hospital in Panipat.

A crowd of other injured survivors and frantic relatives struggled at the hospital to make sense of the attack.

"There was a huge fire and I saw smoke coming out," said Usman Ali, who hails from Lahore, just over the border in Pakistan.

"When I came out of the coach, I saw that the doors of one (carriage) were closed and people could not escape," he told AFP.

A man who identified himself only as Anwar said four of his Pakistani relatives from a family of six, including two children, were among the 66 dead.

He held out hope that two boys had survived but was unable to enter Panipat's Phim Sensachar Civil Hospital to check.

"The doctors are not allowing me to go in. The doctors say the post-mortem has to be completed first."

The family had visited Anwar in India and was on the way home via the train, which runs twice-weekly from New Delhi to Lahore.

A doctor said that verification could take time because of the severity of the inferno that burnt out two coaches of the train.

"It's very difficult to say who the victims were," said Dr. Ved Gupta, head of post-mortem operations at the hospital in Panipat.

"Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition," he said. "

Outside the hospital more than a dozen wooden coffins lined the boundary wall of the mortuary as trucks brought slabs of ice for other bodies that were placed in bags.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16