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Pakistan to launch a paramilitary crackdown in Punjab

Pakistan to launch a paramilitary crackdown in Punjab
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By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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The news comes after scores die in an Easter Sunday bombing at a park in Lahore

  • At least 72 die in Lahore attack
  • At least 29 were children
  • 340 wounded
  • Pakistani Taliban faction admit bombing
  • “Christians were the target”

The news

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Pakistan is to crackdown on Islamist militants in Punjab, after at least 70 people were killed in an Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore.

Officials have told the Reuters news agency that a full-scale paramilitary Rangers operation will be launched.

The security forces will be given powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects

“I am here to reiterate the national determination to fight terrorism to eliminate it from our society,” said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “The fight is not over. In the last three years, the government and security agencies have reduced terrorist activities. We will follow the path of success, despite recent attempts.”

What happened?

Pakistan's PM Sharif demands swift action against terror following #Lahore attacks https://t.co/N4fkJBb9Y2pic.twitter.com/ho1kcLoJSG

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 28, 2016

'This is against all of humanity:' Eyewitnesses describe deadly Pakistan bombing https://t.co/eWh3eJOvH6

— TIME.com (@TIME) March 28, 2016

Scores of people were killed and injured when a suicide bomber struck in a busy public park on Easter Sunday.

It is the worst attack in Pakistan since the December 2014 massacre of 134 schoolchildren at a military academy in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan is a majority Muslim country. However, it has a Christian minority of around two million people.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar

Jamaat-ul-Ahrarn spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan has taken responsibility for yesterday's horrendous attack on… https://t.co/k4FNyvK3UJ

— Mohammed Abbasi (@MohammedAbbasi) March 28, 2016

The faction has claimed responsibility for the attack and issued a direct challenge to the government.

It has said it was behind several big attacks since it split from the Pakistani Taliban in 2014.

Militancy in Pakistan

Pakistan has been plagued by militant violence since it joined a US-led campaign against Islamist militancy after 9/11.

While the army, police, government and Western interests have been prime targets of the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, Christians and other religions have also been targeted.

Security forces have killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants under a crackdown launched after the 2014 Peshawar school massacre.

Most groups, like the Pakistani Taliban, are fighting to topple the government and introduce a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

What they are saying

“The target was Christians. We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore”_ – Jamaat-ur-Ahrar spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page.”_ – Senior government official, on condition of anonymity.

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