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Suicide Attack on Pakistani Church Kills at Least 70 People

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Sep 23
  • Comments

At least 70 people attending Sunday church services were killed by twin suicide bombings in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, one of the bloodiest attacks against the country's Christian minority, the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 100 people were injured in the attack, carried out by two militants wearing explosive vests who had managed to enter the church. A group allied with the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. "I've never seen such piles of human bodies," said Arshad Javed, chief executive of Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital. Christians, a small minority in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan, hadn't up until now been a focus of the campaign of violence that has been unleashed in recent years by the Pakistani Taliban and their al Qaeda-affiliated allies. That campaign has claimed thousands of lives, with government officials, soldiers, secular politicians and members of the Shiite Muslim minority among the victims. The U.S., meanwhile, has been targeting Taliban leaders operating in Pakistan's tribal areas with drone strikes, a practice that the Pakistani government says it opposes. "Until drone strikes are stopped, we will continue with this. Consider this the first of our actions," Ahmed Marwat, a militant commander of Jandullah, a group that works closely with the Pakistani Taliban, said after the Peshawar bombings. "Whoever is non-Muslim will be targeted." Christians protested outside the church and the hospital in Peshawar on Sunday, and there were protests by Christians in other towns across Pakistan. The Christian community announced three days of mourning, with churches and missionary schools slated to be closed. Pakistani Christians are a mostly poor minority, estimated to number about 2 million people, or just over 1 percent of Pakistan's population. They often hold menial jobs and the community complains regularly of discrimination and the imprisonment of some Christians on false blasphemy charges.