Breaking News
0

Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan's Quetta before Christmas, killing nine

WorldDec 17, 2017 10:10AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. Policemen guide people after gunmen attacked the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta

By Gul Yousafzai and Asif Shahzad

QUETTA, Pakistan/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least nine people and wounding up to 56, officials said, in the latest attack claimed by Islamic State in the country.

Police guards stationed at the church entrance and on its roof killed one of the bombers but the second attacker detonated his explosives-filled vest outside its prayer hall just after Sunday services began in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province, said Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial home minister.

Baluchistan police chief Moazzam Jah said there were nearly 400 worshippers in the church for the pre-Christmas service. The death toll could have been much higher if the gunmen had forced their way into the sanctuary, he said.

Jah said the venue - Bethel Memorial Methodist Church - was on high alert as Christian places of worship are often targeted by Islamist extremists over the Christmas season.

"We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him," he said.

Islamic State claimed the attack, the group's Amaq news agency said in an online statement, without providing any evidence for its claim.

Another police official, Abdur Razaq Cheema, said two other attackers escaped.

Broken wooden benches, shards of glass and musical instruments were scattered around a Christmas tree inside the prayer hall that was splashed with blood stains.

Kal Alaxander, 52, was at the church with his wife and two children when the attack happened.

"We were in services when we heard a big bang," he told Reuters. "Then there was shooting. The prayer hall's wooden door broke and fell on us ... We hid the women and children under desks."

Maryam George, 20, cried at a hospital where her younger sister Alizeh was fighting for life with two broken legs and multiple other wounds.

Pakistani Christians, who number around 2 million in a nation of more than 200 million people, have been the target of a series of attacks in recent years.

STRATEGIC REGION

Baluchistan, a strategically important region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan, is plagued by violence by Sunni Islamist sectarian groups linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch insurgency fighting against the central government.

Middle East-based Islamic State has created an active branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent years mostly by recruiting among established militants, and its followers have claimed some of Pakistan's most deadly attacks in recent years.

A suicide bomber killed 52 people and wounded over 100 at a Baluchistan Sufi shrine in November last year, in an attack claimed by Islamic State. In February, Islamic State attacked a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's southern Sindh province, killing 83 people.

Violence in Baluchistan has fueled concern about security for projects in the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan’s southern deep-water port of Gwadar.

The church attack came a day after the third anniversary of a Pakistani Taliban attack on an army-run school that killed 134 children, one of the single deadliest attacks in the country's history.

Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, condemned the attack.

"Quetta church attack targeting our brotherly Christian Pakistanis is an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations," he said. "We stay united and steadfast to respond against such heinous attempts."

Last year's Easter Day attack in a public park that killed more than 70 people in the eastern city of Lahore was claimed by a Taliban splinter group previously associated with Islamic State.

The United States strongly condemned "the shocking and brutal attack on innocent worshippers," U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale said in a statement.

Suicide bombers attack church in Pakistan's Quetta before Christmas, killing nine
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email