Two suicide attackers opened fire inside a church in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding up to 16 before being stopped by police guards, officials said.
Eight people have died and 44 have been injured at a Methodist church in Pakistan, according to reports from Quetta this morning.
Nine of the injured are in a critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.
The attack happened in the city of Quetta, some 65km (40 miles) from the border with Afghanistan. More than a dozen people were also wounded after gunmen wearing explosive vests tried to enter the building.
The two attackers were intercepted at the entrance, the region’s home minister, Sarfaraz Bugti, said on Twitter. Had the men not been stopped there could have been hundreds of casualties, he added.
One of the men detonated his bomb vest and the other was stopped in a gunfight with police.
Police guards at the church exchanged fire with the attackers before they could enter the main sanctuary, said provincial police chief Moazzam Jah.
‘There were nearly 400 people inside the church, but the attackers couldn’t get inside the services,’ Jah said.
‘We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him.’
He said the church had guards because Christian places of worship were often targeted by Islamist extremist groups. Quetta is only 40 miles away from the border with Afghanistan.
Balochistan’s home minister Sarfaraz Bugti said on Twitter that if the men had not been stopped there could have been hundreds of casualties.
He told: ‘The terrorists had weapons and it seems they wanted to take hostages inside the church.’
The incident was over in 16 minutes, he said in a Twitter post.
Islamist extremists have previously attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar in 2013, killing 80 people and wounding more than 100, and two churches in Lahore in 2015, killing 15 and wounding more than 70.
Security forces are conducting a search operation and have surrounded the site of the attack, in the city’s high-security zone, local Urdu-language TV channels report.
A spokesman for the foreign affairs ministry, Dr Mohammed Faisal, condemned the attack.
Attacks in the mainly Sunni Muslim region are not uncommon, often targeting the Hazara Shia Muslim community in suicide bombings but Pakistan’s Christian minority has also frequently been the subject of militant attacks, and guards had been placed near the church in Quetta as a result.
The Balochistan province is home to unrest from several groups with religious or separatist groups, some of which cross the border from nearby Afghanistan.
Cruelty is set free only bound with the dead bodies of the people, this act only explains the foolishness filling the vacant minds of those life takers.
There’s nothing the world could witness more, human lives taken away by humans itself.
Image Source: Reuters