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At least 70 killed in Lahore suicide bombing targeting Christians

A deadly suicide bombing ripped through a crowded park in Lahore, Pakistan, where several Christians had gathered to celebrate Easter on Sunday, killing at least 70 people and leaving over 300 injured.

At least 70 killed in Lahore suicide bombing targeting Christians

The bomb exploded in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in the eastern city of Lahore. Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the breakaway Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS, said the target of the attack was Christians. It is notable that Christians account for less than two percent of Pakistan's total population.

Local authorities say most of the dead and injured are women, children. The same militant group was also involved in the twin bombings of a Christian church in Lahore last year.

Even though the suicide bomber targeted mainly Christians, most of those killed in Lahore were Muslims, who had gone to the park to enjoy Easter festivities. Of the dead, 14 have been identified as Christians, according to Lahore Police Superintendent Mohammed Iqbal. He added that the authorities were yet to identify another 12 bodies.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his "grief and sorrow over the sad demise of innocent lives". His Indian counterpart Narendra Modi telephoned to say "the people of India stand with their Pakistani brethren in this hour of grief," state media reported.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan's capital Islamabad riots erupted today when extremists who have been staging a protest since Sunday tried to move toward the Parliament and other key buildings in the city center. The demonstrators got violent and set cars on fire. They are demanding that the government impose Islamic law or Sharia. The government deployed army to control the situation.

The protesters staged a march in Islamabad on Sunday protesting the hanging of policeman Mumtaz Qadri in February. Qadri was convicted for the 2011 murder of governor Salman Taseer.