World

Blast kills 52 in Pakistan

A suicide bomber killed at least 52 people, mostly women and children, at a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, yesterday.

The blast, which occurred in the carpark of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, close to the children's swings, struck at the heart of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's political base of Punjab.

Around 150 people were injured in the explosion, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, is plagued by a Taleban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence. Punjab is its biggest and wealthiest province.

Witnesses said they saw body parts strewn across the carpark once the dust had settled after the blast. The park had been particularly busy on Easter Sunday evening.

Mr Salman Rafique, a health adviser for the Punjab provincial government, put the death toll at 52 people.

"Most of the dead and injured are women and children," said police superintendent Mustansar Feroz.

Media footage showed children and women crying and screaming, and rescue officials, police and bystanders carrying injured people to ambulances and private cars.

In 2014, Islamabad launched an offensive against the Taliban and affiliated jihadist fighters in North Waziristan, seeking to deprive them of safe havens from which to launch attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. - Reuters

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