A deadly suicide bombing in a public park here marred Easter celebrations in Pakistan on Sunday evening (March 27), as an Islamic extremist group targeted Christians.
At least 70 people have been reported dead, most of them women and children, while more than 350 others were seriously injured and are being treated at hospitals. The condition of at least 138 of the injured was said to be critical.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the banned Pakistani terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took responsibility for the bombing. In a media statement, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said a suicide bomber deliberately targeted the Christian community.
“We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” Ehsan said in the statement, adding that the attack had been carried out under an operation code-named Saut Ul Raad (Sound of Lightning), “which will continue throughout this year.”
“It was part of our annual martyrdom attacks we have started this year,” Ehsan said, adding that “we had been waiting for this occasion … We want to convey to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the prime minister that we have arrived in Punjab and we will reach you.”
The dead included at least 45 Christians and 25 Muslims, including women and children, according to unofficial reports.
Related link: Suicide Bomber Kills More Than 70 as Taliban Targets Christians Celebrating Easter at Pakistan Park