A bomb blast occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, just outside the exit gate, few feet away from children’s swings, killing almost 72 and injuring over 340 people on March 27, 2016. The sound of the explosion was heard several kilometers away and eyewitnesses said there were big crowds in the area because of the Easter celebrations. More than 200 Christian children & women were injured in the attack and 32 deaths of Christians are confirmed from Youhanabad, Bahar Colony, Khaliqnagar and Awan Market famous Christian colonies of Lahore.
The Pakistani Taliban’s Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility. “We targeted the Christians when they were celebrating Easter. This is a message to the prime minister that we are active in Punjab too. And in the coming days you will see more such attacks,” the Taliban spokesperson reportedly told local media.
After the blast CLAAS team comprising Mr. M.A. Joseph Francis along with Sohail Habel and Saddique John reached Sheikh Zaid Hospital, Farooq Hospital, General Hospital and Jinnah Hospital to and analyze the situation and facilitate the victims being rushed for medical facility in the same hour.
Witnesses reported that children body parts were flying in every direction. Due to the blast force, several bodies were flung into the air. The blast could be heard many kilometres away. Local residents reported that the noise was deafening. Shortly afterwards, total chaos erupted; everyone was screaming and running. Shabana an eye witness shared that two blue shopping bags laid unclaimed near the main gate that may have exploded. This explosion caused smoke and dusty air all around and she was unconscious after the blast. .
Sohail Habel from CLAAS was in Mayo Hospital to facilitate people who have come to collect dead bodies as all the dead bodies were sent to Mayo Hospital to handover to the concerned families.
On March 28, 2016 the day of funeral, the smell of smouldering rubbish in the graveyard was temporarily masked by the incense and perfumed flowers laid on the graves of victims of the bombing.
CLAAS Team led by Mr. Joseph Francis comprising Suneeta Manzoor, Shagufta Nazir, Aqeel Naveed, Martin Javed Michael, Albert David, attended the funerals of three deceased Waqar Pervaiz, Sharoon Masih and Matahir Javed at Youhanabad Lahore. The team visited the victim families to express their solidarity at Youhanabad Lahore. Mutahir’s father Javed Bashir shared in sobs that “I tried to pump my son’s chest but he was no more. He died right in front of me,”
Many Christians have accused the government of not doing enough to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to take any real steps to improve security.
The CLAAS Team has collected the data of Christians died in the suicide blast at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park as of March 27, 2016.