72 dead, 340 injured in Gulshan-e-Iqbal suicide blast in Lahore

72 people have been killed and over 340 injured in a blast in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, in Iqbal Town area of Lahore on Sunday. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) faction Jamaat-ul-Ahraar has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The sound of the blast was heard around 6:30 pm, with rescue teams dispatched to the site. These included 23 ambulances and rescue vehicles.

According to reports the blast took place a few metres away from the children's swings. The authorities escorted people out of the park, which is one of the busiest recreational spots in the area. 

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said the group targeted Christians who were celebrating Easter at the park.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar Spokesman Ehsanullah's message in Urdu, claiming responsibility for the attack

"The target were Christians," said a spokesman for the faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan. "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."

The blast occurred near Gate Number 1 of the park. 

“The park had a lot of rush due to Sunday holiday and Easter,” an eyewitness said.

Security personnel surrounded the area and launched the search operation in and around the park. Army personnel also reached Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.

DIG Operations says that there was no news that this place will be targeted. “The eyewitnesses have said it is a suicide attack and we have started the investigation of the incident. After detailed evaluation by the concerned agencies we will be able to tell the real nature of the blast,” he said.

Security agencies have since found the dead body of the suicide bomber. "His upper body is recognizable. He was around 22 years old," security sources stated.

The suicide bomber has since been identified as 28-year-old M Yousaf son of Ghulam Fareed, from Muzaffargarh. "For further confirmation the address given on his ID card will be evaluated and a DNA will be tested on his remaining body," a security official said.

According to Waqt News the park does not have CCTV. The walls of the park have been damaged by the blast, according to reports.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has condemned the blast and has ordered officials to ensure that all possible treatment is given to the injured.

CM Sharif has also announced three-day mourning in Punjab, while the Balochistan government has announced a day of mourning in the province as well.

Punjab Health Advisor Khwaja Salman Rafique says arrangements are in place for the injured. "All the doctors are on duty and arrangements are in place in all hospitals to treat the injured," he said while talking to Waqt News.

While talking to the media Lahore DCO Captain (R) Muhammad Usman had claimed that even though the blast was on Easter but the Christian community was not the target. “We will look into the matter and arrangements will be made s that this kind of incident does not happen again in the future,” he said. "The park authority has its own security and there was no Easter ceremony was going on in the park," the DCO added.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan have also condemned the blast.

PM Sharif has cancelled all his appointments for the day and tomorrow."We will not rest till the elimination of the last terrorist," he said.

The injured have been shifted to Jinnah Hospital and Shaikh Zayed Hospital. Emergency has been declared in all city hospitals.

According to Waqt News there are inadequate medical facilities at Jinnah Hospital. In some instances there are reportedly more than 2 injured people on a single bed in the emergency ward, without sufficient care.

The park was busy on Sunday evening due to Easter holiday and the weekend. 

Security has been beefed up at all major entrance points of the city. 

*Images Courtesy AFP

**This is a developing story

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