A group related to the Taliban has murdered at least 70 people in Pakistan as it targeted Christians celebrating Easter.
The leader of Catholics across the globe has denounced what he called the vile and abominable Easter Sunday bombing in a Pakistani park that targeted mainly Christians.
On Monday the country began three days of mourning after Sunday's suicide bombing in the eastern city of Lahore in a park crowded with families.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction that supports the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility and said it specifically targeted Christians.
However it has been reported that most of those killed were Muslims who also had been in the popular park for the holiday.
Of the 72 dead from Sunday's attack, 14 have been identified as Christians and 44 as Muslim, no one else has been identified yet.
Pope Francis told those gathered in St Peter's Square that most of the 70 dead in Lahore were Christian families celebrating Easter, including many children.
He urged authorities in Pakistan to "make every effort to restore security and serenity" to Pakistanis, particularly religious minorities in the mainly Muslim nation.
At least 300 people were wounded in the attack.
The pope added that violence and hate only lead to sorrow and destruction and that respect and brotherhood are the only path to reach peace.
He urged prayers to God to "stop the hands of violent people sowing terror and death".
He was speaking as Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to hunt down and defeat the militants who have been carrying out attacks like the Easter bombing that targeted Christians and killed 72 people.
Nawaz Sharif said: "We will not allow them to play with the lives of the people of Pakistan.
"This is our resolve. This is the resolve of the 200 million people of Pakistan."
Mr Sharif said the army would undertake a military operation on extremist hideouts and police will go after what he called the "cowards" who carried out the attack.
Nobel peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (above), herself a survivor of a Taliban shooting, said she was "devastated by the senseless killing of innocent people in Lahore."
"My heart goes out to the victims and their families and friends,"
"Every life is precious and must be respected and protected."
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