On Sunday, Pakistan was the site of a deadly bombing that killed 69 people. Falling on Easter Sunday, the explosion targeted Christians at local park Gulshan-i-Iqbal in Lahore.
From its date and location, it appeared that the attack was engineered to terrorize Pakistani Christians. Those suspicions were confirmed when a Taliban splinter group thought to be affiliated with ISIS came forward to take responsibility. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction, told Reuters that they demanded shariah law be imposed on Pakistan, including the banning of Christianity.
“The target was Christians. We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore. He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
This is the #Lahore park. So the barbaric nature of these terrorists is not lost in tweets/numbing death-toll stats: pic.twitter.com/u85Vlk6gCH
— Raju Narisetti (@raju) March 27, 2016
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also previously targeted Christians elsewhere in Lahore. Last year, they killed 15 people at a bombing in a Pakistani Roman Catholic Church, according to a previous report by the Inquisitr. Haider Ashraf, a senior police official in Lahore, said that the wide open space of a park, with many exits and no security, was perfect for the group to carry out their Easter morning bombing. Their goal was to kill as many Christians as possible, with no regard to age, said Ashraf.
“It was a soft target. Innocent women and children and visitors from other cities have been targeted. Apparently, it seems like a suicide attack.
Soon after the Pakistan bombing took place, the U.S. government released a statement condemning the attacks.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s appalling terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan. This cowardly act in what has long been a scenic and placid park has killed dozens of innocent civilians and left scores injured. We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed, just as our thoughts and prayers are with the many injured in the explosion. The United States stands with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult hour. We will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region, as together we will be unyielding in our efforts to root out the scourge of terrorism.”
Some media pointed out that the White House failed to mention that the Pakistan bombing did indeed target Christians. Oliver Darcy, the editor of The Blaze highlighted the omission in both an article on the news site and through his personal Twitter.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 27, 2016
As they have waged their war across the Middle East, Christians have been a specified target of the Islamic State. In addition to Christians, ISIS is targeting Yezidis, Turkmen, Sabea-Mandeans, Kaka’e, and Kurds. The European Union passed a resolution in February that officially defined what was happening in the region as genocide, reported the Inquisitr.
A petition for the United States to make the same recognition was circulating, until Congress recently passed such a resolution. The unanimous bill landed a historic 393-0 vote in favor of recognizing the Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Sabea-Mandeans, Kaka’e, and Kurds killed by ISIS as genocide victims. Secretary of State John Kerry came forward a week later to follow suit, according to the National Review.
“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions. We must recognize what Daesh is doing to its victims.”
Knowing that the Pakistan Easter bombing targeted Christians, it seems that the Lahore attacks fall under both the European Union and United States definitions of genocide. Their response, however, is yet to be determined.
[Image via John Moore/Getty Images]