At least 65 people are confirmed dead, mostly women and children
At least 69 people have died and 300 injured in a suicide bombing targeting Christians during Easter celebration in Pakistan. Most of the victims are women and children.
The attack took place in a public park in the Pakistani city of Lahore. A former Taliban splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, has taken responsibility for the attack — confirming the target of the suicide bombing were Christians. In 2014, the splinter group had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
According to eyewitnesses the explosion took place at the entrance of the park — meters away from the children’s swings.
Indian-based NDTV reports:
A breakaway Pakistani faction of the militant Taliban group has claimed responsibility for an Easter Sunday bombing in a park in the eastern city of Lahore that killed 65 people.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, told the Associated Press that a suicide bomber with the faction deliberately targeted the Christian community.
The explosion took place near the children’s rides in Gulshan-e-Iqbal park – which was crowded with Christians celebrating Easter -local police chief Haider Ashraf said. He said the explosion appeared to have been a suicide bombing, but investigations were ongoing.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s spokesman told media that “we have carried out this attack to target the Christians who were celebrating Easter. Also this is a message to the Pakistani prime minister that we have arrived in Punjab [Pakistan’s most populous province].”
The attack comes at a time when Islamists are rioting in Pakistan in support of Islamist gunman Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered the governor of Punjab 5 years ago. Qadri was hanged for the murder last month, sparking nationwide protests from the Islamic fanatics.
With a population of just over 2 million, Christians make up around 1.5 percent on Pakistan’s population. The tiny minority has long been a target of terrorist attacks, as well as persecuted by state-sanctioned Sharia and blasphemy laws.
Watch: EuroNews report on Lahore Terror Attack
[Cover Image courtesy Geo TV, YouTube screenshot]
[Author is an Indian Journalist based in Europe]