Lahore attack death toll rises to 13. The archdiocese closes schools and cathedral
by Kamran Chaudhry

A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the Punjab Assembly. The attack was claimed by the Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. It is the same extremist group which last year hit a gathering of Christians during the celebrations for Easter. Archbishop prays for the families of the victims and the wounded.


Lahore (AsiaNews) –  The death toll from yesterday’s attack on the Punjab Assembly in Lahore, during a rally by 400 pharmacists has risen to 13 people, including six police officers. Another 85 people were seriously injured and are still hospitalized.

Msgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, archbishop of Lahore, expressed deep sorrow for the victims and prayers for the families, the archdiocese has decided to close eight schools and increase surveillance of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and of the Caritas offices.

Caritas Pakistan operations manager Rojar Randhawa told AsiaNews: “More than eight schools have been closed in the city after yesterday's brutal attack. Two of these were located on mall road, near the targeted site. The gates of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Caritas Pakistan Lahore CPL (located near Punjab assembly) have been closed and security guards have been asked to inquire all visitors". "We were having a meeting when we heard a loud noise outside, it even shook our computers. We started getting phone calls from our families. My five year old son did not stop crying until I returned home".

The blast occurred when a suicide bomber ramed his motorcycle in protestors gathered in front Punjab Assembly. Jamat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban having links with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group had attacked an Easter gathering in a park of Lahore last year which killed 70 people injuring 300, mainly Muslims.

"This blast is among the initial chain links of our operation Ghazi (Muslim warrior). We warn the apostate departments of Pakistan that they are on our target in this operation around the country", stated Asad Mansoor the spokesperson of Jamat-ul-Ahrar.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the blast and directed Punjab Government to reach the site and provide all possible assistance to the injured. "Such cowardly acts cannot deter the resolve of the nation to stand against terrorism and our government is committed to root out this menace," he said.

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw expressed sorrow for the victims. "With heartfelt and deepest sorrow, on the behalf of Church in Pakistan I sympathize with all the families that lost their relations in this callous and devilish act of terrorism. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, relatives and friends of this act of senseless violence. May God give them fortitude to bear the loss”.