As It Happens

Pakistan mourns after Easter bombing kills at least 70

An attack at a park on Easter Sunday in Pakistan has shaken the country and launched yet another expansion of the military's controversial anti-terror efforts. As It Happens speaks with author and journalist Ahmed Rashid.
Relatives of the victims of a suicide bomb blast cry outside a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, 27 March 2016. (Rahat Dar/EPA)

Three days of official mourning began in Pakistan Monday following a brazen attack on the city of Lahore. At least 70 people are dead, and more than 300 are injured, after a suicide bomber targeted a busy park on Sunday. 

"It was Easter Sunday. It was also a very beautiful day. In a few days the [summer] heat is going to start, so everyone was out," Ahmed Rashid tells As it Happens host Carol Off. Rashid is a journalist and the author of numerous books, including Pakistan on the Brink. 

Family members comfort a woman mourns the death of a relative, who was killed in a blast outside a public park on Sunday, during funeral in Lahore, Pakistan, March 28, 2016. (Mohsin Raza/Reuters)
The Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has said they were targeting Christians. Rashid describes this faction as "small, very vicious and nasty." 

"This is one of the groups that have been driven into Afghanistan where they've got shelter from the Afghan Taliban. They've been attacking, particularly, soft targets in Pakistan itself ... And, the Pakistani officials have not been able to eliminate them so far." 

A forensic officer looks for evidence at the site of a blast that happened outside a public park on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, March 28, 2016. (Mohsin Raza/Reuters)

In response to Sunday's attack, Pakistan has announced that it will launch a paramilitary operation across the province of Punjab. 

"This is a very clear signal that there are acute divisions between the military and the civilian government. The civilian government has been trying to convince the military that civil forces — that is the police and civilian intelligence agencies — can do the job. Now, clearly, they can't," says Rashid. 

To hear more take a listen to our full interview.

Suicide bomber hits Pakistan park

6 years ago
Duration 1:01
Explosion kills at least 60 people and wounds 300 during Easter celebrations at a park in Lahore