A splinter group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan, the English-language newspaper Dawn reports.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has taken credit for the bombing that killed at least 69 people and injured about 341 others near Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park Sunday night. The attack targeted Christians celebrating Easter on Sunday, CNN reports. Many of the victims killed in the bombing were women and children.
The group was founded and is led by Omar Khalid Korasani, a former Taliban senior leader who broke off from the main group to form the more-hardline organization in 2014, according to the Mackenzie Institute. Korasani and his splinter group re-aligned with the main Pakistani Taliban leadership in 2015, according to the institute’s profile.
They were previously responsible for a March 2015 bombing at a Roman Catholic church in Lahore that killed 15 people and injured 70 others in March 2015, according to the BBC.
The group was motivated by the success of ISIS, according to a 2014 New York Times article.
Its members include “disaffected Taliban factions from four of the seven tribal districts along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan,” the Times reported. Khorsani also has ties to Al Qaeda.
Sunday’s attack occurred at a 67-acre park that includes walking paths and rides for children, according to the New York Times. It came amid growing violence around Pakistan tied to the February 29 execution of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the bodyguard who killed governor Salmaan Taseer, who campaigned for changes to the country’s blasphemy laws, the Times reports.
“It was a soft target. Innocent women and children and visitors from other cities have been targeted,” Haider Ashraf, a senior police official in Lahore, told the Times. “Apparently, it seems like a suicide attack.”