ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two suicide bombers attacked a church packed with worshipers on Sunday in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least eight folks and injuring at least 30 other people, numerous critically, officials stated.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, claimed duty for the attack in Quetta, the capital of the restive Baluchistan Province, in the country’s southwest.
The assault raised concerns about the security of religious minorities, especially Christians, in a nation with a dismal record when it comes to the remedy and protection of religious minorities, analysts say.
Pakistani officials denied that ISIS had an organized presence in the country, even so, even even though the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for a number of other attacks in Baluchistan in recent years.
“Law enforcement agencies have badly failed in safeguarding common citizens, and minorities in certain,” stated Shamaun Alfred Gill, a Christian political and social activist based in Islamabad.
“December is a month of Christian religious rituals,” Mr. Gill stated. “We had demanded the government beef up security for churches all more than the country. But they have failed to do so.”
Christians make up at least 2 percent of the country’s population of about 198 million. Most of them are marginalized and perform menial jobs.
The attack, a week just before the Christmas holiday, unfolded in the early morning hours at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church. About 400 people had gathered for Sunday service when an assailant detonated his explosives-laden vest close to the door to the church’s major hall.
Yet another attacker failed to detonate his suicide jacket and was shot by security forces right after an intense firefight, officials mentioned.
Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial residence minister, stated the death toll could have been greater had the attacker managed to reach the major hall of the church, which is on one particular of the busiest roads in the city and close to several important public buildings.
Local tv networks broadcast images of terrified worshipers operating out of the church as the attack was underway. Numerous young girls, wearing white frocks and holding red bags, could be seen fleeing the compound. Witnesses told regional news outlets that people, panicked and frightened, had rushed out after hearing a loud explosion, followed by the sound of gunfire outside.
As safety forces moved inside the main hall right after the attack, they were confronted by a scene of bloody destruction. A number of benches and chairs have been overturned. Musical instruments have been turned upside down.
A Christmas tree with decorative lights stood at a single corner, and a pool of blood lay outside the door where the suicide bomber had detonated explosives.
Two ladies had been amongst the dead, and ten girls and seven children were amongst the injured, hospital officials said. Most of the injured were taken to the Civil Hospital nearby.
Quetta has been the scene of violent terrorist attacks lately, and a huge number of military and paramilitary troops, apart from the police, have been deployed to sustain safety.
Officials have repeatedly claimed that they have reduced violence in Baluchistan, a rugged and resource-rich province bordering Afghanistan and Iran. But the ease with which the attackers managed to carry out their assault on Sunday seemed to belie those claims.
“The army repeatedly claims that it has broken the backbone of terrorism in the country,” Mr. Gill said. “But terrorism is still quite significantly present and destroying the lives of frequent men and women.”
An insurgency by Baluch separatists has long simmered in the province, and the Taliban and other militants preserve a presence in the area.
Some officials have been swift to shift blame toward Afghanistan, pointing to the presence of havens there for militants.
“The terrorists have safe sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan,” said Anwar-ul Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government. “They have turn out to be a main supply of terrorism inside Baluchistan.”
Many minority leaders, nonetheless, stressed that there was a larger need to have to appear inward to guarantee security for religious minorities, specifically Christians.
“This attack is a critical breach of security,” Mr. Gill stated.
Published at Sun, 17 Dec 2017 11:48:19 +0000