Suicide bomber kills 65, mostly women, children in Pakistan park
LAHORE - Reuters
AFP photoA suicide bomber killed at least 65 people and injured more than 280 others, mostly women and children, at a public park in the Pakistani city of Lahore on March 27, striking at the heart of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's political base of Punjab.
The blast occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, a few feet (meters) away from children's swings.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred in a busy residential area during the Easter holiday weekend. Police said it was not clear whether the attack had deliberately targeted mainly Muslim Pakistan's small Christian minority.
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, is plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence. Punjab is its biggest and wealthiest province.
Eyewitnesses said they saw body parts strewn across the parking lot once the dust had settled after the blast.
"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 come to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park for a walk.
Salman Rafique, a health adviser for the Punjab provincial government, put the death toll at at least 60 people.
"There are more than 280 injured people," Rafique said. "Many are in operation theaters now being treated and we fear that the death toll may climb considerably."