Lahore attack on Christians kills 69

A bomb blast in a public park in Lahore killed 69 people and injured over 250, mostly women and children. The blast, reportedly caused by a suicide bomber, occurred at a time when Christian families were celebrating Easter on Sunday.

The explosion took place in a parking lot at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the blast. It also threatened more attacks.

The blast occurred against the backdrop of massive protests against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salman Taseer in January 2011. Taseer was campaigning for modification in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Easter coincided with the 40th day of Qadri’s execution, a religious observance called chehlum in Pakistan. There were many clashes between the protesters and police in Islamabad.

The government imposed a state of emergency on Lahore hospitals after the bomb explosion. Three-day mourning has been announced in Punjab by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to express his grief. Modi tweeted: “Heard about the blast in Lahore. I strongly condemn it. My condolences to families of the deceased & prayers with the injured: PM.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said in his tweet: “I’m shocked by the terrorist attack in Lahore. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. We will do what we can to help.”

The US condemned the attack as “cowardly.”