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Pakistani Taliban faction claims Easter park bombing

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Pakistani police officers and rescue workers gather at the site of bomb explosion in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, March, 27, 2016. A bomb blast in a park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore has killed tens of people and wounded scores, a health official said.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Pakistani police officers stand guard at the site of a bomb blast in a park in Lahore, Pakistan today. A bomb blast in a park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore has killed tens of people and wounded scores, a health official said.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A Pakistani injured man from a bomb blast talks on his cell phone at a local hospital in Lahore, Pakistan today. A bomb blast in a park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore has killed tens of people and wounded scores, a health official said.

ISLAMABAD » A bombing on Easter Sunday killed 65 people in a park in the eastern city of Lahore that was crowded with Christians, including many children.

A breakaway Pakistani faction of the militant Taliban group claimed responsibility. Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, told the Associated Press that a suicide bomber with the faction deliberately targeted the Christian community.

The explosion took place near the children’s rides in Gulshan-e-Iqbal park local police chief Haider Ashraf said. He said the explosion appeared to have been a suicide bombing, but investigations were ongoing.

The attack killed 65 people and wounded over 300, said Deeba Shahnaz, a spokesman for Lahore rescue administration.

Punjab’s chief minister Shahbaz Sharif announced three days of mourning and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice, said Zaeem Qadri, a spokesman for the provincial government.

The park was manned by police and private security guards, police chief Haider Ashraf said. “We are in a warlike situation and there is always a general threat but no specific threat alert was received for this place,” he added.

Schools and businesses in the city will remain closed on Monday, the city’s schools association and the Union of Lahore Traders said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting to assess the security situation in Lahore, according to a government statement. Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, also convened an emergency meeting of the country’s intelligence agencies to begin to track down those responsible for the attacks, said army spokesman Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa.

Salman Rafiq, a health adviser to the Punjab government, called on people to donate blood, saying that many of those wounded were in a critical condition.

One witness, who wished to be identified only by his first name, Afzal, told AP that he had taken 20 children to hospital and carried three dead bodies to a police car. “I can’t explain to you the tragic situation,” he said.

Another witness, Tariq Mustapha, said that he had just left the park when he heard an explosion. He said his friend was still missing.

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.

A witness, not identified by name on Pakistan’s Geo TV station, said he was heading toward a fairground ride with his wife and two children when he heard a huge bang and all four of them were thrown to the floor. A woman was shown crying while looking desperately for her missing 5-year-old son.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said that the United States “condemns the attack in the strongest terms,” describing it as a “cowardly act in what has long been a scenic and placid park.” Ned Price said the U.S. would continue to work with Pakistan and its partners to “root out the scourge of terrorism.”

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for India’s External Affairs ministry, tweeted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif to express his deep condolences. He said Modi “underlined the need for uncompromising efforts to fight against terrorism.”

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Associated Press writers Zaheer Babar in Lahore, Pakistan, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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  • I read the Pope condemning the “terrorist” act and that being said like Obama doesn’t call it Islamic terrorist acts. lol. The Pope even blasted the European Nations trying to stop the flow of the poor and war torn into their country. Without Christian taking up arms against these Muslim Islamic terrorist there’d be no America or any other Christian Nation that exists today. You go figure! Logically thinking millions upon millions of Christians be killed or hide their Christian Faith from these Muslims/Islamic fanatics. The Faith that has no fear of using brutal force will prevail and there’s no doubt about it.

    • I’m proud to say although I follow no religious denomination but live with/by Christian values and having 5 uncles and my father who served in the US military in WW2 as Japanese Americans taking up arms to protect my freedom today. Without US citizens taking up arms to protect our Country we’d be no more or at best live under someone else’s rule.

      • My guess is that the Pope has no other option to say what he says but without people taking up arms to fight for Christian values as we know of it today, we as a Nation may not be here today. That’s the bottom line. These Religious Fanatics will not disappear with no intervention of physical force. The Pope should stay out of this arena, enough being PC about this and if the Pope can’t mention taking up arms to defend Christianity he should keep from preaching non-violence to solve this situation. All religious denominations or non-believers who wants to live in our Free society will have to bear and use arms to protect us. Ask yourself why these Islamic/Muslim Religious folks can’t live side-by-side with Christians? like we do in the US. Millions of Israeli’s were led to slaughter in WW2 and I don’t think US Christians will lay down arms and being led to train stations because of their beliefs.

    • I hate to agree but most Westerners are just glad it’s not the places you mentioned. We forget the people in the middle east are being murdered too.

  • The criminals responsible probably related to the people they killed or injured. Uneducated, poor and desperate are the best recruits. Shut the doors already.

  • May these twisted psychopaths who butcher innocent children someday be reborn as cockroaches to be stepped on just like they give no thought to the lives of others. Whether you practice a religion or not, I believe karma is inherent to the universe and these inhuman monsters will get their just fate. It may take time for some, but it will happen because anything else would be wrong in our existence.

    • These are not psychopath but “pious ” adherents of Islam , the religion of violence who follow the murder instructions in the Koran spread by their Imans.

  • Islam has become a world catastrophe. A religion which advocates in its “holy” book Koran the killing of enemies based on faith and wants world dominance should be outlawed and none of its adherents be allowed to immigrate into the US. Vote for Hillary and they will be allowed to enter by the million. Why is Donald being attacked for preventing the disaster of Islam to enter?

    • Because people dont understand how serious this issue is to public security and the American way of life. These criminals are sophisticated, have money, have family members helping them and plenty of nothing to lose followers ready to kill and die.

  • Can we ask our legislators to legalize decent people running the mentally changed drivers with those ridiculous “COEXIST” bumper stickers off the road? News flash: Only one of those religions is the problem!

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