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Monday
Feb122018

Pakistan: Deadly pre-Christmas attack on church

Terrorists stormed Bethel Memor-ial Methodist Church in the city of Quetta, Pakistan in December. (Photo: Bethel Memorial Methodist Church)

(Staff) A SUICIDE BOMB and gun attack on a Methodist church in Pakistan has killed at least nine people, officials say, and wounded dozens of others. There were nearly 400 worshippers in the church for a pre-Christmas Sunday service.

On Dec. 17th terrorists stormed Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in the city of Quetta, only 65 km from the Afghan border. The Islamic State group has said it carried out the attack.

Two suicide bombers were stopped at the entrance to the church, Sarfraz Bugti, the Balochistan region’s home minister, said. Had the men got any further, there could have been hundreds of casualties, he added.

One of the men detonated his bomb vest and the other was stopped in a gunfight with police. Two more attackers fled. The church was on high alert as Christian places of worship are often targeted by Islamist extremists over the Christmas season.

 

A witness told the BBC that several children attending Sunday school had taken shelter while firing continued all around them.

Another witness, Kal Alexander, told Reuters: We heard a big bang. Then there was shooting. The prayer hall’s wooden door broke and fell on us ... We hid the women and children under desks.”

Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned the attack. The “Quetta church attack targeting our brotherly Christian Pakistanis is an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations,” he said. “We stand united and steadfast to respond against such heinous attempts.”

Attacks in the mainly Sunni Muslim region are not uncommon, often targeting the Hazara Shia Muslim community in suicide bombings. But Pakistan’s Christian minority has also frequently been the subject of militant attacks, so police guards had been placed at the entrance to the church and on its roof.

Pakistani Christians number around two million in a country of more than 200 million people.   TAP            –Sources: BBC & Reuters 

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