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Lahore Bombing Update


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Daniel Zwerdling. Michel Martin is off today. There's been another terrorist bombing, this time in Lahore, Pakistan, and this time in a park near the children's swings. Officials say more than 65 people were killed, and it was a suicide bombing. NPR's Philip Reeves joins me on the line now from Islamabad, Pakistan. Phil, from your sources, can you describe the scene?

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Well, this happened in a pretty big park, a place called Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. It happened on a warm Sunday evening. Sunday's part of the weekend in Pakistan, unlike many other places in the Islamic world, and people were out enjoying the weather, enjoying the day off. Reports suggest that there were a lot of women and children.

This happened near the area where children play, near the swings. The death toll is high, and officials say it will likely rise further. And the number of injuries gives you the size of a crowd. It's said to be very high. Officials are talking about around 300.

ZWERDLING: There's no words to say how depressing this all is. We're hearing early reports, unconfirmed, that the Taliban is claiming responsibility. What do you hear?

REEVES: Well, according to the Reuters news agency, a faction of the Taliban has claimed responsibility. Attacks like this often are met by claims of responsibility by a number of different organizations, so this is one of them, according to Reuters.

But what perhaps is significant about it is according to that news agency, a spokesman for that faction is claiming that the target of the attack was Christians. Christians are a very, very small minority in Pakistan. But it is Easter Sunday today, and a lot of them will have been out enjoying themselves in Lahore.

ZWERDLING: The Taliban carried out that horrific attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan just a little over a year ago. More than 140 people were killed. But the Taliban has seemed kind of quiet since then in Pakistan.

REEVES: Well, it's been heavily squeezed. That attack on the army-run school in Peshawar that you mention, Danny, was a complete game changer in Pakistan, really. I mean, it was a terrible attack. Around 130 schoolboys were killed.

And it changed the public mood. The public was generally appalled. And so the army was able to press ahead with a big offensive against the militants, particularly in the mountains bordering Afghanistan - which was already underway when the attack happened, but they were able to push ahead with it. And also in the city of Karachi, which is another militant stronghold in Pakistan.

The army crackdown meant that the number of attacks went down, the public mood improved and the militants felt squeezed. And so the speculation right now is that this is an attempt by the militant Islamist groups to respond to that pressure.

ZWERDLING: NPR's Philip Reeves in Islamabad. The right words don't seem to be thank you, but thanks.

REEVES: Yeah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Daniel Zwerdling is a correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit.

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