Brooklyn Pakistani Community Mourns After Lahore Terrorist Attack Kills Dozens
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A candlelight vigil was held in Brooklyn Monday night to mourn those lost in a terrorist attack that killed several dozen people in Pakistan this past weekend.
A total of 70 people died when a suicide bomber targeted Christians gathered in Lahore. The explosion took place near the children's rides in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park -- which was crowded with Christians celebrating Easter --local police chief Haider Ashraf said on Sunday.
As CBS2's Lou Young reported, mourners braved the wind to hold the vigil Tuesday night in front of the Council of People's Organization Muslim Community Center, at 1081 Coney Island Ave. in Midwood, Brooklyn.
The area is known as Little Pakistan, and images of the Easter Sunday bombing cut deep there. Some know Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park as well as many New Yorkers know Central Park.
Buzah Roohi's family missed the disaster by 30 minutes.
"It's not an attack on Lahore," she said. "It's an attack on humanity."
Mohammad Razvi, founder of the Council of People's Organization, said earlier that the violence literally hit home.
"I actually played in that park, so I'm actually from the region. And I contacted my family immediately," Razvi said. "They told me they just had returned earlier from that place before it happened. And it was so devastating."
Funerals had already begun in Pakistan Monday night, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported. At one church, a family gathered to bury an 11-year-old boy.
The attack by a suicide bomber happened only steps from children playing on the swing sets and on carnival rides.
More than 300 people were injured in the attack on Sunday – most of them children.
A terrorist group – an offshoot of the Taliban that has sworn allegiance to ISIS – claimed responsibility for the attack targeting Christians. But many Muslims were also killed.
On Monday night, Christians and Muslims stood side by side at the vigil. William Shaazad is president of the Pakistani Christian Association.
"If you are a terrorist, they have no religion," he said. "They don't have religion. They do whatever they want."
The scene of the attack is far from the mountain tribal regions where extremism is common. And the group is only one of many threatening the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It is enough to make an immigrant fear for the country left behind.
"I'm like really scared of like all this stuff and the Taliban and all," said Marion Khan. "I don't know what's going to happen."
"A handful of people trying to uproot the very fabric of the society, so obviously anyone who has got some connection back home would feel terrorized," said Pakistani Consul-General Raja Ali Ejaz.
Earlier on Monday afternoon, religious leaders joined Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams outside a mosque in a predominantly Pakistani area of Midwood – praying for peace.
"We want to send a clear and loud message to our people, and our residents of the Pakistani community here, that we will stand with you, and listen, and follow what is needed to assist you, as you overcome this devastating encounter that took place," Adams said.
Pope Francis also condemned the attack on Monday, calling the massacre a "vile and senseless crime."
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