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Pakistan: Suicide Bomber Attacked Christians on Easter Sunday – killed 72, injured 340

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Pakistan: Suicide Bomber Attacked Christians on Easter Sunday – killed 72, injured 340

At least 72 people were killed and over 340 injured in a suicide blast on Easter Sunday at Gulshan Iqbal Park, Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, Pakistan, Because of Sunday and Easter’s celebrations, the park was packed and there were around 3,000 people at the time of blast. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the exit gate of the park where many Christians, mainly women and children, were celebrating Easter after Easter’s prayer services. So far, ten Christian families’ dead bodies have been identified. According to The News, the children were playing on swings and enjoying other recreational facilities available in the park along with their parents when they were hit at 6:35 pm on Sunday. Many eyewitnesses told media that there was no security in and around the park.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman of Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban has accepted responsibility for the deadly attack. “We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” he said in his message.

The Punjab government announced three days mourning in memory of blast victims, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting after the blast to review the security situation in the country.

This was not the first suicide attack on Christians in Pakistan, they have continuously under attack by terrorist groups because of their faith. According to Minority Concern, around 21 people were killed and more than 80 injured on 14 March last year, in two suicide attacks by Taliban at two churches in Youhanabad, a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore. After a year on, not even a single person has been brought to justice. On 23 September 2013, Taliban suicide bombers attacked the All Saints Church in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in which more than 80 were killed, and about 120 people were injured. The majority of them were women and children.

The alleged suicide bomber was identified as Mohammad Yousaf from district Muzaffargarh, Southern Punjab. He studied in a madrasa in Lahore, and he was resided at the same madrasa for the last 8 years. The Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) said on Monday that a number of alleged terrorists and their facilitators have been arrested in anti-terrorism raid conducted in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan.

Aftab Alexander Mughal is the editor of the Minority Concern of Pakistan magazine and former National Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan.

Aftab Alexander Mughal is a Pakistani journalist and a human rights activist. He is the editor of Minorities Concern of Pakistan, an e-magazine, while he also heads the Asia desk of Spero News . For 14 years, he served the “Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan” and “Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan” as National Director for Research and Publications and an Executive Secretary. From 1985 to 1992, he worked as Youth Director of Catholic Diocese of Multan, Pakistan. Born in 1956 in Muzaffargarh, Southern Punjab of Pakistan, Mughal has worked with many national and international civil society organizations. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science. He has widely travelled and represented Pakistan at regional and international conferences. He has been awarded the "International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2010" by the Union of Catholic International Press (UCIP) whose international office is in Geneva, Switzerland. The award was made at the World Congress, which was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 12 -19, 2010. This is Mughal's second award from UCIP. His first one being the "Media in Your Country Award" which he received on the October 20, 1989 in Ruhpolding Germany. Mughal started his career as a journalist in 1979 and edited the monthly magazines "Nishan-e-Rah" and "Mashal." until 1985. Since then he worked as a freelance journalist. His main area of interest is human rights, peace and religious freedom in Pakistan. He also has been contributing to national and international magazines, newspapers and various news agencies and has several books to his credit on minority rights issues including, “Death or Exile” and “From the Ashes of Shantinagar.” Moreover, he is also a co-author of “Section 295 C, Pakistan Penal Code – Study of the History, Effects and Cases under Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.”

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