LAHORE: At least 69 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a suicide bomb ripped through the parking space of a crowded park in Lahore where Christians were celebrating Easter Sunday, officials said.Dozens of ambulances were seen racing to the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in the Iqbal Town area soon after the blast that was reportedly claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaatul Ahrar group.“The toll has risen to 69. The rescue operation is continuing,” an official of the Punjab government said.The army had been called in, he said, and soldiers were at the scene helping with rescue operations and security.Senior police official Haider Ashraf said the blast appeared to be a suicide attack, adding that ball bearings were found at the crowded park.Iqbal Town Superintendent of Police Dr Iqbal confirmed it was a suicide attack that took place at the children’s park where a large number of families, especially women and children, were present at the time.The area is a renowned residential area of Lahore. The blast was just outside the exit gate and a few metres away from the children’s swings. DCO Captain (r) Muhammad Usman said the head of the suicide bomber had been recovered. Ball bearings were also found at the site.A medical superintendent at Jinnah Hospital, who gave his name only as Dr Ashraf, said more than 40 dead bodies had arrived at the hospital.“The number of injured stands at more than 200 people, most of them are in critical condition,” he said. I fear the death toll will rise.”He described a nightmarish scene at the hospital, with staff treating casualties on floors and in corridors.Eyewitnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts spread across the site of the attack. “We took the injured to hospitals on rickshaws and taxis,” one eyewitness said.He added that the crowd was ‘unusually large’ because of Easter. “The roads were also jammed and queues of vehicles could be seen till Moon Market.”Javed Ali, a 35-year-old resident who lives opposite park, said the force of the blast had shattered his home’s windows.“Everything was shaking, there were cries and dust everywhere. After 10 minutes, I went outside. There was human flesh on the walls of our house. People were crying, I could hear ambulances.”He added, “It was overcrowded because of Easter, there were a lot of Christians there. It was so crowded I told my family not to go.”Many eyewitnesses said there was no security present in and around the park. “The park is huge and has many entrance gates. There were almost no security personnel present there,” an eyewitness said.A Rescue 1122 spokesman confirmed that an emergency call was received at around 6:44pm and that over 20 ambulances had been sent to the site at the time.An emergency was declared at all government hospitals in the city.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the blast incident and expressed his grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives.He also directed the authorities concerned to ensure special medical care to the injured.