(JTA) — At least 65 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a suicide bombing at a park in Lahore, Pakistan.
More than 300 were wounded in the attack for which the Pakistani Taliban faction claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting Christians on Easter Sunday, Reuters reported.
The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park near the children’s swings. The park is a popular spot for the Lahore Christian community.
“When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air,” said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had gone to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk, Reuters reported.
Police Superintendent Mustansar Feroz said most of the casualties were women and children.
A spokesman for the Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said the target was Christians.
“We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said, according to Reuters. “He can do what he wants, but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the past decade.
The United States condemned what it called a “cowardly act” in a statement Sunday, saying it “stands with the people and Government of Pakistan at this difficult hour.”
“We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Lahore as they respond to and recover from this terrible tragedy,” the statement said.