Pakistanis are in a state of mourning after about 60 people were killed and many others injured following an explosion in a park within the city of Lahore. The BBC reports that the incident happened on Easter Day evening at a time when the park was crowded with families. Lahore is the capital city of Punjab, Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest province which also houses the political powerbase of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to police sources, the explosion may have been a suicide bomb, although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Speculations are rife that the bomber targeted Christian families who were out at the park to enjoy themselves during the Easter weekend. Sources say the explosion appeared to have occurred at the main gate to the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in an area where cars are usually left, and a short distance from the children’s swings, while majority of the casualties are women and children.
An eyewitness reports that there was chaos which was followed by a stampede as children were separated from their parents in a bid to flee the venue of the explosion. Speaking with Pakistan’s Geo TV station, another man who witnessed the incident explained that he was heading towards a ride with his wife and two children when he heard a huge bang and they were all thrown to the floor.
Also, Hasan Imran, 30, a local resident who had gone to the park for a walk reportedly told Reuters that, “When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air” while a health adviser to the regional government said more than 280 people had been injured with fears rising over the possibility of the dead rising.
President, Mamnoon Hussain, has in strong terms, condemned the explosion just as the Punjab government has declared three days of mourning. This explosion is coming just days after Brussels airport was attacked by the Islamic State of Syria and Iran (ISIS) terrorists which left about 31 people dead and 270 others injured.
Reports say a Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw has identified Ibrahim El Bakraoui as one of two suicide bombers at the Brussels airport and his brother, Khalid El Bakraoui, as the man behind a deadly suicide blast about an hour later on a train near the Maelbeek metro station.
CNN reports that one of the bombers at the airport may be the man authorities named as a suspect in the Paris terror attacks. Belgian investigators believe that the second suicide bomber killed in the Brussels airport was alleged bomb-maker Najim Laachraoui. They have not established his identity conclusively, a senior Belgian counter-terrorism official said.
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