Karachi/Islamabad: Two suicide bombers attacked a packed church during a Sunday service in the restive Pakistani city of Quetta, killing eight people and injuring 44 others in a targeted assault on the minority Christian community ahead of Christmas in the Muslim nation.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s Amaq News Agency posted a statement online, saying attackers had stormed the church in Quetta — the capital of Balochistan province. But the terror group provided no evidence for the claim.
Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that at least two suicide bombers were involved in the attack on the Bethel Memorial Church on Zarghoon road in Quetta. “One attacker was killed at the gate by police after an intense gunfight while the other, wearing a suicide vest, entered the church and detonated his explosives,” he said. Bugti said that the terrorists had weapons and it seems they wanted to take hostages inside the church.
“The security forces foiled their plan,” he added. Balochistan’s Inspector General Moazzam Ansari said there were 400 worshippers inside the church when it was attacked. Sources said that a few days back Methodist schools and churches had received threatening notes from the Sajjan group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The threatening notes were also received in Karachi and Lahore which led to missionary schools cancelling their examinations and taking an early winter/Christmas break. Following the attack, an emergency was declared in all hospitals across Quetta.
Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the attack, calling it “an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations/create religious cleavages.” Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal also condemned the attack, which came a day after Pakistan observed the third anniversary of the Peshawar school ttack of 2014 which killed at least 150 people, mostly students