Pakistani officials said they will launch a crackdown on armed Muslim militant groups, after a suicide bombing left at least 70 dead
and hundreds wounded on Easter Sunday in the provincial capital Lahore, according to Reuters
. At least 29 children were among those killed in the attack.
The powerful blast occurred near a children’s swing set in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, which was filled with a large crowd of families celebrating the Christian holiday, reports The New York Times.
"I wish I hadn’t brought my daughter to the park today,” Kamran Bhatti told The New York Times. "
This is the only recreation we can afford for her. What is her fault?"
"While we were running out of the park, my daughter slipped and rolled over. She’s injured, but I thank my God that we are not crying for a lost child," he added.
Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction has since claimed responsibility for the attack. The group had previously declared loyalty to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, according to Reuters
. This deadly attack is the fifth by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar since December. Sunday's attack came just days after men attacked two sites in Brussels
, killing dozens of people.
The attack was the deadliest Pakistan has seen since 2014. Officials told Reuters
that they are launching a full-scale paramilitary Rangers operation in response. Using the Rangers will give authorities the power to conduct raids and interrogate suspects. But the government's use of the paramilitary group has also drawn criticism and reports of human rights abuses and the targeting of opposition politicians, according to Reuters.
Military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said a number of suspects have already been arrested.
Ahead, photos of how people in Pakistan are mourning those who lost their lives and were injured in the attacks. This story contains images that some readers may find upsetting. Editor's note: All captions were provided by Getty Images.