60 killed as suicide bombers hit historic church in Peshawar
Peshawar: Two suicide bombers struck a historic church here today, killing at least 60 people, including women and children, in the deadliest attack on the minority Christian community in Pakistan's history.
Over 120 others were injured in the attack on All Saints Church at Kohati Gate area of Peshawar. City Commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Anis said the bombers set off their explosive vests as people were coming out after Sunday mass.
Anis said some 600 to 700 people were inside the church at the time of the blasts. Nearby buildings were damaged by the powerful blasts.
Arshad Javed, Chief Executive Officer of the state-run Lady Reading Hospital, confirmed 60 people, including women and children, were killed and 120 others injured.
The dead included four children aged between three and eight years and a Muslim police official, officials said.
Bomb Disposal Squad chief Shafqat Mahmood said two bombers carried out the attack. Each suicide vest contained an estimated six kilograms of explosives, he said. Footage on television showed the walls of the church were pitted with ball bearings packed into the vests.
Witnesses said they had seen body parts and bloodstained clothes and shoes lying strewn at the site of the attack.
Angry Christians staged a protest at Lady Reading Hospital, where most of the victims were taken. They also blocked the G T Road with the bodies of the dead.
This was the worst attack in Pakistan's history on the Christian minority, which has not been targeted as frequently as other minorities like Shias or Ahmadis.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban and militant groups have been blamed for previous assaults on religious minorities, including Christians.
In March, a Muslim mob attacked a Christian colony in Lahore and torched two churches and over 100 houses.
Christians frequently find themselves accused under the controversial blasphemy law.
In March 2002, five persons, including three foreigners, were killed and 45 injured when terrorists attacked a church in the diplomatic enclave of Islamabad.