At least 70 people, including 29 children enjoying the Easter holiday have been killed and some 300 people injured, after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a public park in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
A Taliban militant group, which once declared allegiance to Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Easter suicide bombing. Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for the Taliban militant faction told The Associated Press late Sunday that the attack deliberately targeted Christians celebrating the Easter holiday.
In a statement, the group said: ‘We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter.”
‘We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore. He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
It was Pakistan’s most brutal attack since the December 2014 massacre of 143 school children at an army-run academy in the city of Peshawar.
The chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif announced a three-day mourning period and promised to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
Christians who make up only about 2 percent of Pakistan’s 182 million population have frequently been targeted by Pakistani extremist groups. Even though the recent bombing targeted mainly Christians, a large number of those killed in Lahore were Muslims, who were also in the park on Easter Sunday.
The bomber blew himself up near an entrance to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, close to a children’s play area on Sunday evening. The sound of the explosion was heard several kilometres away and eyewitnesses said there were big crowds in the area because of the Easter holiday.
Terrorist attacks against Pakistan’s Christians is becoming alarming. The same militant group was previously responsible for a March 2015 bombing at a Roman Catholic church in Lahore that killed 15 people and injured 70 others. In 2013, 75 Christians were killed in a suicide bombing at a church in the northeastern city of Peshawar.