Easter Sunday Slaughter: 65 Killed by Suicide Bomber Targeting Christians in Pakistan
The death toll has climbed to 65 after a suicide bomber attacked a busy park in Lahore, Pakistan, where Christians were celebrating Easter. Most of the dead are children, officials said.Reuters adds:
The devastating attack was near the children’s rides at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park, The Associated Press reported.
Over 300 people are injured, a spokesman for Lahore rescue administration said, according to The AP.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the terrorist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, told The AP that a suicide bomber from the group targeted the Christian community and warned that more attacks would follow.
The U.S. State Department condemned the terrorist attack calling it a “cowardly act” that “targeted innocent civilians.”
“The United States stands with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult hour. We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Lahore as they respond to and recover from this terrible tragedy,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
The Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The target was Christians,” a spokesman for the faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said. “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.”
Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the past decade. Many Christians accuse the government of doing little to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to take any concrete steps to improve security.