A huge explosion has left at least 56 people dead and 200 injured in the city of Lahore in Pakistan, reports NPR. According to initial reports, the explosion, struck the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park located on the western side of Lahore. A popular weekend getaway, the location is known for its wide lawns, a boating lake, and amusement rides. The park was crowded with public at the time of the explosion. The death toll is set to rise even further. Initial reports had put the death toll at 38. It rose to 56 a few minutes after that.
According to local police chief Haider Ashraf, many families were leaving the park when the explosion took place. Initial reports say the attack was carried out by suicide bombers and that the attackers specifically targeted children’s rides. Many of the dead are thought to be women and young children. Meanwhile, a BBC report says that the bombing could have been targeted at Christian minority families who are known to visit the park during Easter. The same report also said the explosion took place at the main gate of the park. This is yet to be confirmed. Several of the dead and the injured are thought to be Christian families.
It was a horrific scene at the park once the dust caused by the blast settled down. Several eyewitnesses described seeing body parts strewn across the parking lot. Several of the injured were taken to the Jinnah Hospital, where they are undergoing emergency treatment. Several of the injured remain in critical condition and the death toll could rise for the same reason, doctors from the hospital confirmed. Initial footage from the blast site showed women crying and children screaming as police officials and bystanders rush in to start the rescue efforts.
Mustansar Feroz, police superintendent for the area, said “Most of the dead and injured are women and children.”
No organization has so far claimed responsibility for the blasts. However, the suspicion is already on the Pakistani Taliban, an organization known to regularly conduct brutal attacks on innocent civilians in Pakistan.
Following the Lahore blast, social media has been crowded with tweets from eyewitnesses and people comdemning the blast. A few tweets are embedded below.
— Luis Xavier (@piunsky) March 27, 2016
@OfficialWithZJM if you guys didnt hear about the news yet, there was a suicide bombing at Lahore. So far 25 ppl are dead and dozens injured
— Zayn Malik Updates (@OfficialWithZJM) March 27, 2016
— The Quint (@TheQuint) March 27, 2016
Deadly suicide blast hits Pakistan’s Lahore https://t.co/RnsOX2PBsK pic.twitter.com/Rt0c73joC0
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) March 27, 2016
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 27, 2016
The US NSC has also issued a statement condemning the blast.
— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) March 27, 2016
This is a developing news story. We will update this report when new information comes in.
Update: The death toll in the Lahore blasts have climbed above 70, latest reports say. Pakistani authorities have also added that more Muslims than Christians were killed in the blast. However, they maintain that the attack was targeted at Christians celebrating Easter. Meanwhile, a report by The Washington Post confirms that the attack was carried out by a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban called the, Jamaat ul-Ahrar. The organisation claimed responsibility for the attack, saying, “it was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter.”
[Photo by AP Photo/K.M. Chuadary]