Choir members and children attending Sunday school were among 85 people killed in a suicide bombing at a Protestant church in northwest Pakistan. Blamed on American drone attacks, it was one of the deadliest attacks ever on the Christian community in Pakistan.
CNN The attack took place at the All Saints Church of Pakistan, in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country’s capital, Islamabad. A congregation of about 500 people was attending the church. Two suicide bombers struck right as services concluded.
“Suicide bombers entered the church compound from the main gate and blew themselves up in the midst of the people,” a statement posted on the diocese website read. The outside of the church was peppered with debris. Crowds of men and rescue officials were covered in blood. The attack left 120 people wounded, with 10 of them in critical condition, Dr. Arshad Javed, chief executive of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, said Monday.
A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the church attack, blaming the U.S. program of drone strikes in tribal areas of Pakistan. “Until and unless drone strikes are stopped, we will continue to strike wherever we will find an opportunity against non-Muslims,” said Ahmed Marwat, a spokesman for TTP-Jandullah.
Christians make up less than 3% of the population in the South Asian nation of 193 million. Militant groups have also targeted other minorities including Shiite Muslims, who are significantly outnumbered by Sunnis in Pakistan.