By BI: The blast happened in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore, near the children’s swings, and most of the victims were women and children. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack, adding: ‘The target was Christians.’
UK Daily Mail Authorities have so far confirmed the deaths of 65 people at the park, where Christians had been celebrating Easter, but they expect the death toll to rise. ‘Most of the dead and injured are women and children,’ said Mustansar Feroz, police superintendent for the area in which the park is located.
Senior police official Haider Ashraf said the blast appeared to be a suicide attack, adding that ball bearings were found at the crowded park. Medical workers said the blast mainly killed women and children, while many of the wounded were in a critical condition.
Nasreen Bibi, the mother of a two-year-old injured in the attack, spoke through tears as she waited for news from the doctors. ‘We were just here to have a nice evening and enjoy the weather. May God shower his wrath upon these attackers. What kind of people target little children in a park?’
The group responsible for the attack was founded Omar Khalid Korasani, a former Taliban senior leader who broke off from the main group to form the more-hardline organization in 2014. He re-aligned with the main Pakistani Taliban leadership last year, and the group are currently waging war on the government, which in 2014 vowed to grant no safe haven to terrorists.
The attack happened in the heart of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif political base in Punjab. 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.’ The group was previously responsible for a March 2015 bombing at a Roman Catholic church in Lahore that killed 15 people and injured 70 others.
Today, eyewitnesses said they saw body parts strewn across the parking lot once the dust had settled after the blast. ‘When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,’ said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had gone to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk.
The park had been particularly busy on Sunday evening due to the Easter holiday weekend, and ambulances were seen rushing to the blast scene.