Young children enjoy rides at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore, before bomb blast

At least 65 people were killed when an explosion tore through a crowded amusement park in Pakistan where Christians were celebrating Easter

Reuters reported a Taliban faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack and said Christians specifically were the target of the blast. At least 300 people were injured when the bomb went off in the eastern city of Lahore. Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park is a popular site for members of Lahore’s Christian community, many of whom had gone there to celebrate the Easter weekend holiday.

A suicide bomber is suspected as responsible. The explosion reportedly occurred just outside the exit gate and near children’s rides.

Most of the dead are women and children. Witnesses reported seeing body parts strewn across the parking lot after the dust settled.

“When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,” Hasan Imran, 30, told Reuters.

“It was overcrowded because of Easter, there were a lot of Christians there,” said Javed Ali, a 35-year-old who lives near the park. “It was so crowded I told my family not to go.”

Fox News reports 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.

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Women and children, screaming and crying as they stood in pools of blood outside the park, waited for rescue workers. Police, officials, and bystanders transported the injured to local hospitals in ambulances as well as private cars, taxis and even auto-rickshaws. Hundreds of people lined up to donate blood.

“We were just here to have a nice evening and enjoy the weather,” Nasreen Bibi said at the Services Hospital, crying as she waited for doctors to update her on the condition of her toddler.

“May God shower his wrath upon these attackers. What kind of people target little children in a park?”

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction, confirmed: “The target was Christians. 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.”

Authorities closed public parks and shopping areas after the blast. Some distraught, hysterical relatives clashed with rescue officials and police. The army was called in to help with crowd control.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price issued a statement: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s appalling terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan. This cowardly act in what has long been a scenic and placid park has killed dozens of innocent civilians and left scores injured. We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed, just as our thoughts and prayers are with the many injured in the explosion.

“The United States stands with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult hour. We will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region, as together we will be unyielding in our efforts to root out the scourge of terrorism.



The U.S. is considered a strategic ally of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence. Christians account for less than 2 percent of the country’s mostly Muslim population. Reuters notes 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.

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