Two terrorist suicide bombers targeted a church in Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 81 people and injuring over 150 others. The dead include 34 women and 7 children.
Islamabad, Sept 23/Nationalturk – After targeting Sunni and Shia Muslims mosques, shrines, two terrorist suicide bombers targeted a church in Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 81 people, including 34 women and 7 children, and injuring over 150 others.
The two suicide bombers detonated their suicide vests at the end of a service at All Saints church in Peshawar, main town in restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday afternoon.
Police said the bombers struck when the service had just ended.
At least 78 people were killed over 150 injured in the bombing. The injured have been admitted in Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, where emergency has been declared and doctors are attending on the injured.
Three critically injured succumbed to injuries in the hospital in the night, taking the death toll to 81. “The death toll is likely to rise as many of the injured have sustained critical injuries,” the doctors have said.
Officials said among the dead include 34 women and 7 children.
They said all the 81 people killed in the tragic incident have been laid to rest in Christian graveyards.
“The service had just ended and at least 400 worshippers were greeting each other when a huge explosion took place. The explosion threw me on the floor and as soon as I regained my senses, a second blast took place and I saw injured people everywhere,” a schoolteacher Tahir Khan.
There were shreds of human flesh and bloodstains on the walls and floor of the church.
The suicide bombing on church is believed to be the country’s deadliest attack on Christians. Security officials apprehend that notorious militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may be behind the attack.
A group affiliated with TTP Junood ul-Hifsa has claimed responsibility for the attack.
It claimed the bombing was to avenge US drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives.
“We carried out the suicide bombings at Peshawar church and will continue to strike foreigners and non-Muslims until drone attacks stop,” Ahmad Marwat, a spokesman for the group, was quoted as saying by international wire news agency, AFP.
In June, the same group claimed responsibility for killing 10 foreign climbers at a base camp of Nanga Parbat, the second highest mountain in Pakistan after K-2.
Bombings cause outrage across Pakistan
Angry relatives of the deceased blocked the main Grand Trunk Road highway in Peshawar with bodies of the victims to protest against the killings and demand punishment to the perpetrators of the crime.
The bombings caused outrage in the country with Christians accompanied by Muslims coming out on roads across Pakistan and staging protest demonstrations against the killings.
“The terrorists were not even allowing people to pray in churches, mosques and imambargahs, which was a great tragedy. It was incomprehensible why innocent Christians were attacked when they had no role in government affairs. We would not bow before terrorism and would stand with the nation in the fight against extremism,” Christian protestors said.
They demanded protection for churches and other places of worship across Pakistan.
The protest demonstrations were held in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rahimyar Khan, Hyderabad, Quetta, Peshawar and many other cities in Pakistan. The protestors said government has failed to curb terrorism and demanded dismissal of government in Khbyer Pakhtunkhwa province and army operation against the terrorists.
Pakistan government and government of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have announced three days mourning against the killings.
“No Pakistani has any words to condemn such an inhuman act. I wonder who these people are, who call themselves brave and yet go ahead and kill women and innocent children. What religion, society or law could see such acts as legitimate,” Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said.
4-member team to probe bombing
A four-member committee has been formed to provide twin suicide bombings at a church.
“Besides constitution of a four-member probe committee, a new security plan for the protection of minorities has been prepared,” SP Peshawar city Ismail Kharak was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s official news agency, AAP.
Police sources said preliminary investigation has revealed that both suicide bombers were men and 20/25 years old. “They were not wearing police uniforms as was claimed by some people,” they said.
Some people had alleged that attackers were in police uniform and others had claimed that they were wearing ‘burqa’ (veils).
Pakistan PM, UN chief, others condemn bombing
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other political and religious leaders of Pakistan have strongly condemned the bombing.
Nawaz termed the bombing as “cruel” attack, saying it violated the tenets of Islam.
“The government and nation was unable to proceed any further on the proposed dialogue with TTP with the mindset and wish that was based on good intention,” Nawaz told reporters in London.
He said Pakistan government had proposed the process of dialogue with good intention and this enjoyed the backing of all the political parties.
“The incidents like attacks on a Church in Peshawar are not a good omen for the intended dialogue. These attackers are enemies of the country,” added Nawaz.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also strongly condemned terrorist attack on a church in Peshawar and called on Pakistan government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
A statement issued by UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky said UN Secretary General was appalled by the attack, which had killed about 81 people.
“The secretary general condemns this atrocious bombing attack in the strongest possible terms. These acts of terror cannot be justified by any cause, and urged the government to do everything possible to find and bring the perpetrators to justice. The secretary general extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the people and Government of Pakistan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ulema Council, an association of leading Muslim scholars, branded the attack as “shameful” and against basic principles of Islam.
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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk Pakistan News