At least 65 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a suicide bomb ripped through the parking space of a crowded park in Lahore where Christians were celebrating Easter Sunday, officials said, as the Express Tribune says. Dozens of ambulances were seen racing to the park, situated near the center of the city with many women and children among the dead and wounded.
“The toll has risen to 65. The rescue operation is continuing,” an official of the Punjab government said to Express News. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar claims responsibility and said it targeted Christians.
Earlier, provincial government in Lahore says that at least 50 people died in a suicide attack in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park of Iqbal Town, Pakistani Dawn reports. According to the Dawn sources, over 200 are injured. Superintendent Police Dr. Muhammad Iqbal from Iqbal Town confirmed, “this was a suicide attack,” which happened at a children’s park, where a large number of families, especially women and children were present. A health adviser to the chief minister of Punjab province said, “many of the injured are in a critical condition.”
Local police chief Haider Ashraf said, “the area was crowded with Christians celebrating the Easter holidays, and many families were leaving the park when the blast occurred.” Police did not receive specific threat alert, but Ashraf mentioned that police guards and private security guards secured the park. The USA Today, an American media with largest circulation said, “footage broadcast on local television stations showed chaotic scenes in the park, with people running while carrying children and cradling the wounded in their laps.”
Dawn says, a rescue 1122 spokesman confirmed that an emergency call was received at around 6:44 p.m. local time and that over 20 ambulances reached the site.
Worldwide, Facebook users received messages on their cellphones from Facebook Safety Check with the question whether they are affected by the explosion, and option to reply safe if they are ok, or out if they are not in the area.