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69 killed, 300 injured as suicide blast hits public park in Pakistan's Lahore
At least 69 people including a large number of women and kids were killed and over 300 others injured when a suicide bomber hit a public park in Pakistan's east Lahore city on Sunday evening, officials said.
Deputy Coordination Officer Lahore, Captain Usman, said that the killed people included 23 kids whereas 56 injured children were shifted to various hospitals of the city.
Haider Ashraf, the Deputy Inspector General Police, said that the suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking stand near the gate of the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in the Lahore city, the capital of the country's east Punjab province.
He said that the stand was located near the kids' swing area and ticket booth and the bomber chose it to explode himself for targeting a large number of people in which he succeeded.
He said that the park was crowded than usual due to Sunday's holiday and a number minority Christian people was also visiting it to celebrate the Easter festival, when the blast happened.
A Pakistan Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attack in Lahore that killed over 60 people and injured over 300 on Sunday.
"We claim responsibility for the attack on the Christians as they were celebrating their religious festival," spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat ul Ahrar, Eshansullah Ehsan said.
A wounded middle-aged woman was seen running towards the ambulance carrying a badly injured small girl in her arms, asking rescue teams to sift the kid to the hospital.
"She is my granddaughter, I came to park with her father and mother, but I lost them in the explosion, I don't know whether I will be able to see my son and daughter-in-law again or not," the woman said.
After the explosion there was pool of blood at the blast site and people, mostly women and kids rushing out of the park with blood dribbling from their forehead and limbs.
A cell phone with broken screen was found at the site where the incoming call showed "Mother", but its owner was nowhere to answer it.
Police took the phone into custody and informed the worried mother about the situation.
All the recreational parks in the city were closed after the blast and people were directed to stay at home.
The injured people including a large number of women and kids were shifted to Jinnah Hospital and Sheikh Zaid Hospital where scores of them are said to be in critical condition.
Many of the injured were transported to the hospitals on taxis and auto-rickshaws by volunteers due to a shortage of ambulances.
Personnel from Pakistani army also reached at the blast site to shift the injured people to the hospital.
Hundreds of people arrived hospital to search for their relatives who went missing after the blast, but were stopped by the police at the main gate to avoid overcrowding inside the hospital as there was already not enough space for the blast victims.
The nurses said that they do not have enough beds to facilitate such a large number of injured people and many of the wounded victims were lying on the floor, bathed in blood and crying for medical aid.
Hanif Chanio, a teenager who was stopped at the entrance gate of the hospital by the police, said that his brother took his wife and six kids from a village near Lahore to the park for picnic, but did not reach home after the explosion.
"Please let me go, I have come all the way from my village to search for my brother and his kids, my old father and mother are waiting for them at home, let me see them in the injured, let me see them in the mortuary," Chanio let out a wail while requesting police.
Khwaja Salman Rafique, the adviser to Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, appealed residents to donate blood at the hospital to save the lives of the injured people as scores of them are in critical condition.
The provincial government also provided free rides to those who showed interest in donating blood by calling at the number specified by the officials.
The bomb disposal squad said that the suicide bomber was carrying an estimated eight to 10 kg of explosive materials in his suicide vest.
Personnel from Pakistani army also arrived the park and took its control for investigations.
The army personnel also took part in shifting the injured people to the hospital.
Police found National Identity Card of the suicide bomber near the remains of his body which shows him a resident of Muzaffargarh city of the Punjab province who was born on January 1, 1988.
A heavy contingent of police reached at the bomber's home in Muzaffargarh and arrested 15 people including his two brothers and shifted them to some undisclosed location for investigations.
The government of Punjab announced three-day mourning over the incident whereas the governments in the country's south Sindh and southwest Balochistan province announced one-day mourning.
Both the country's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain condemned the blast and directed hospital administration to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured people.
Sharif, who was scheduled to leave for U.K. Monday, postponed his visit to review the security situation in the country.
The country's army chief also held a high level meeting and directed concerned commanders, Intelligence agencies to commence operations as soon as possible to find linkages and perpetrators of the suicide attack, the Inter-Services Public Relations, the mouthpiece of Pakistani army said.
International community including the U.S., Turkey and India also condemned the blast.
"Heard about the blast in Lahore. I strongly condemn it. My condolences to families of the deceased & prayers with the injured," Modi said in a tweet.
[Source: Xinhua, Islamabad, 27Mar16]
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|This document has been published on 29Mar16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|