Taliban in Lahore: "We wanted to kill Christians." But victims include Muslim women and children
Attack on the Gulshan-i-Iqbal amusement park by four terrorists; three fled, one blew himself up. His name was Muhammad Yousaf, twenty, educated in an Islamic school in Lahore. Christians and Muslims donate blood for the wounded. Director of Justice and Peace: "It’s like in Syria." Lahore priest: Terrorists choose soft targets to ca greatest number of deaths in the shortest possible time.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - This morning the city of Lahore seems deserted, with markets and schools closed in solidarity with the victims of yesterday’s suicide attack, which caused 72 victims, mostly women and children, and 350 injured.
The spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan off-shoot Jamaat ul Ahrar, Ehansullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility for the attack and stated: "We wanted to attack Christians who were celebrating Easter."
In fact this year, the Punjab government recognized Easter Sunday as a holiday from work and many Christian families from the suburbs had taken the opportunity to visit Lahore, or visit Gulshan-e-Iqbal park, the place of attack, in the area adjacent to children's amusement park, where there were also Muslim families and their young children.
Lahore priest Fr. Morris Jalal, confirms that "many Christians were killed" and states: "Instead of difficult and hard targets [military barracks, etc.], the terrorists now aim at soft targets. They use suicide bombs to cause as many victims as possible as quickly as possible ".
Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Justice and Peace Commission, said: "We are in a situation similar to that in Syria. The terrorists are followers of a religion of terror. They spare neither Christians nor Muslims. They think they have license to even kill families and children”.
Since yesterday evening, the hospitals of the city are crowded with the families of those killed and injured. An elderly Muslim woman, who lost her 21 year old son and daughter in law, curses: "What will happen to the attacker on the day of judgment? Will he be forgiven in the presence of Allah? May God give us the strength to take revenge on that day! May we be allowed to obscure their faces. "
Arif Masih, a young Christian who was at the park with his family, said: " There was blood and bodies everywhere, it was devastating, I almost fainted ". A Christian woman, Asma Masih in tears, still does not know anything about what happened to his children: "my whole world has ended, the children insisted to come to the park to enjoy themselves, now I cannot find them, I have lost everything".
The police chief of Lahore, Haider Ashraf, said that about 20 kg of explosives were used in the attack, that there were four terrorists; three managed to escape, one blew himself up.
According to preliminary data, it is Muhammad Yousaf, 22-25 years old, son of a vegetable vendor from Muzaffargarh (Punjab), who has spent some time in a madrassa [Islamic school] in Lahore.
Many people, Christians and Muslims, are visiting hospitals to donate blood for the injured, showing their will to stand united against extremism. There are also people who are critical of the lack of security personnel and are insisting that the government deploy special forces [rangers].
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the Lahore hospitals and the injured, promising an all-out fight against terrorists. The Government of Punjab has announced three days of mourning.
Yesterday's attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Access to the Bahar Colony within the area of the explosion, blocked. Nearly 50,000 Christians live in the neighborhood and there are nearly 200 churches. Bishops' study emergency aid for victims. At least 160 attacks occurred in Pakistan in 2013.
Christians and Muslims from civil society say the government only preaches against terrorism, but is afraid of losing the votes of Muslim extremists. Solidarity in blood donations for the wounded in the city's hospitals. Sit-in of Islamic extremists in Islamabad to criticize the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, Salman Taseer’s killer. Concerns about possible murder of Asia Bibi. Calls for a commitment to eradicating fundamentalism from textbooks, courts, and public discourse.
For the Peace and Justice commission, “killing innocent people, in particular women and children, in the name of religion is unacceptable.” In addition to a military response, the Pakistani government should “address the root causes of this intolerance”.
At Jinnah Hospital in Lahore 65 people, including 13 children, are hospitalized in serious condition wounded in the Park attack on Easter Sunday. Kajal is 17 years old and has three serious fractures and four stiches in her right eye: She will never see again and will have difficulty walking, her mother says, "but at least she is here with us". Taj, a 24 year old electrician: "After the explosion they even stole my phone."
A conference was held on 16-17 January at al-Azhar. Many prominent figures from Lebanon took part, including the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi. The Arab world is divided between "complicit passivity" and "noisy but ineffective speeches". For a former Lebanese premier, coordinated actions are needed to ensure greater efficacy on behalf of Jerusalem’s "pluralistic identity " and "religious freedom". Card Al-Rahi called for joint prayers, Islamic-Christian interfaith solidarity in the Arab world, and support for the Palestinians.
The Three Grades of Servants cult, an underground pseudo-Protestant sect founded in Henan, is especially strong in the countryside. Those convicted claim they are just ordinary Christians and know nothing about the sect. Defense lawyers have been threatened with loss of their license to practice.