At least 65 people were killed and hundreds injured, many of them children, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded Pakistani park where Christians were celebrating Easter.
Explosives packed with ball bearings ripped through crowds near a children’s play area in the park in Lahore, leaving dozens dead or bloodied.
Witnesses described children screaming as people carried the injured in their arms, while frantic relatives searched for loved ones.
Javed Ali, a 35-year-old who lives opposite the park near the centre of the city, said the force of the blast shattered the windows of his home.
“After 10 minutes I went outside. There was human flesh on the walls of our house. People were crying, I could hear ambulances,” he said.
“It was overcrowded because of Easter, there were a lot of Christians there. It was so crowded I told my family not to go.”
Doctors described frenzied scenes at hospitals, with staff treating casualties on floors and in corridors, as officials tweeted calls for blood donations.
Witnesses said the wounded were first rushed to hospital in rickshaws and other vehicles before dozens of ambulances arrived on the scene.
Lahore’s top administration official, Muhammad Usman, said 65 people had been killed in the suicide attack, and more than 50 children were among the injured.
“The bomber managed to enter the park and blew himself up near the kids’ playing area where kids were on the swings,” told AFP.
A splinter group of the Pakistan Taliban said it carried out the attack, according to the website of the Express Tribune.
“We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” a spokesperson for Jamaatul Ahrar was quoted as saying.
Officials said the toll — already the highest in an attack this year — was expected to rise.
A Lahore rescue official confirmed 65 people were dead, and said the number of injured stood at 340.
Facebook activated its safety check system, so users could tell friends and relatives they are safe, but a glitch meant notifications were sent to people all over the world.
The company later apologised, but some users said the error was a good thing because it meant news of the attack spread more quickly than it might otherwise have done.
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.