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Lahore, Pakistan — A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, a children’s park here Easter Sunday. Reports are that at least 70 persons — including 29 children — were killed and 340 injured, mostly women and children. Of the injured,138 were reported to be in critical condition
The bomb was detonated near the children’s swings and according to police was packed with ball bearings for causing maximum deaths and injuries.
A Taliban group known as Jamaat-ul Ahrar, a splinter faction of the banned terrorist outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). claimed responsibility for the attack. They said they were targeting Christians celebrating Easter under an operation codenamed “Saut Ul Raad”, which will continue throughout this year.
Of those who died at the scene, 14 were Christian, 44 were Muslim and nine could not immediately be identified, according to Lahore police. The group said they were also using this to notify government officials that they are in the province. Jamaat claims to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed on Monday to hunt down and defeat the militants who have been carrying out attacks such as the Easter bombing. Sharif said the army would forge ahead with a military operation on extremist hideouts and police will go after what he called the “cowards” who carried out the attack. Later raids and dozens of arrests were carried out in the eastern province of Punjab, where several militant organizations are headquartered.
Police said the bomber was believed to be 23 to 25 years of age. His head and leg were recovered. He was later identified as Yousuf, son of Ghulam Farid, a resident of district Muzzafargarh, born Jan. 1, 1988. The information was obtained from a burnt out national identity card found near the body of the suspected bomber.
Police in Lahore said Monday that they were investigating whether the suicide bomber had accomplices.