Father Federico Lombardi, the pope’s spokesman, said: “Once again cowardly murderous hatred rages on the most defenceless.” Christian minorities had been struck by “fanatical violence”, he added.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, tweeted: “We pray for the victims of Lahore to the crucified God, who brings hope in despair, whose love is with the victims, who promises justice.”
The archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, the Catholic leader in England and Wales, said: “The perversity of evil knows no bounds. It sinks to a new low of hatred in deliberately targeting women and children celebrating their Easter Day in peace.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury.
“This despicable act, aimed at Christians, is utterly contemptible and condemned just as we fervently pray for those who have died and been wounded.”
The Taliban faction Jamaat ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the bombing. “We carried out the Lahore attack as Christians are our target,” said spokesman Ehansullah Ehsan.
A year ago, the group carried out a bombing at a Roman Catholic church in Lahore, in which 15 people were killed and 70 injured.
Christians and other religious minorities have often come under attack in Pakistan over the past decade. Many Christians say the government has done little to improve their security.
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