Taliban splinter group claims responsibility, says it was targeting Christians
The grieving family of Naveed Ashraf, 21, who died in the Easter bombing in Lahore, March 27. (Photo by Kamran Chaudhry)
A church official in Lahore has condemned a suicide bomb attack that targeted Christians at a park in the Pakistani city on March 27, which killed at least 72 people.
Father Morris Jalal, the founder and program director of Lahore-based Catholic TV, expressed grief over the Easter explosion, which also left over 300 people injured.
"This is very, very sad, we can't do anything but pray and condemn what is happening around us," said Father Jalal.
A Taliban splinter group — Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar — has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. The terrorist group said that Lahore's Christian community was their target.
Among the dead so far include 29 children and seven women. The death toll is expected to rise.
"I was almost deafened, there were bodies everywhere. The deaths are more than the official toll," Ghulam Asghar, a local resident, told ucanews.com. "I was entering the park with my six kids when the explosion occurred."
Initial investigations have identified the bomber as Yousaf Freed, a 28-year-old who resided at a madrassa (Islamic seminary) in Lahore.
Police said ball bearings were used in the bomb, which weighed around 20 kilograms.
Watch this ucanews.com video that was taken at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore just after the bombing that left over 70 people dead.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveyed his sorrow over the loss of life and has announced three days of mourning throughout the Pakistani province. Sharif also donated blood while visiting Sheikh Zaid Hospital where 53 injured victims from the attack were brought on March 27.
Some relatives of the victims spoke out against the government as politicians visited the crowded hospital.
"These rulers are killing our kids; they are the ones behind the bombings. My 21-year-old son was married just four months ago," cried an elderly bearded man.
Doctor Attiya Mehboob, the deputy dean of the hospital, said that they had received both Christian and Muslim bomb victims.
"Many Christians were present in the park as part of Easter celebrations," said Doctor Mehboob.
"Security agencies were receiving information about attacks on Easter day. The terrorists are bent on spreading fear and pain."
Out of security concerns, all markets in the Punjab capital were closed March 28 while the city's parks have been closed indefinitely.
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