Quetta church attack: Not the first, hopefully the last

Pic17-022 QUETTA: Dec 16 – An FC personnel stands alert at Matthew Desk Church on Zarghon Road after a suicide attack occurred at the church. At least eight people were killed and sixteen others injured in the incident. ONLINE PHOTO by Samiullah

LAHORE: Pakistan bathed in blood once again when terrorists on Sunday stormed Quetta’s Bethel Memorial Methodist Church killing at least nine people and injuring 30 in a suicide attack.

But this was not the first time when violence struck the worship places of minority Christians, who constitute about 1.6 per cent of the total population of the country.

Relatives of the victims of the suicide attack at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta in deep grief at civil hospital

On September 22, 2013, All Saints Church in Peshawar was hit by twin explosions, killing 80 people and wounding over 100 others, as the suicide bombers detonated vests made up of 6kgs of explosive material. The victims of the blasts included women and children.

The first attack happened when services had finished and people were leaving the church. The suicide bomber tried to attack the people, but when he was stopped by the police, he detonated the bomb. The second blast was carried out inside the church.

The responsibility of the attack was not claimed by any terror group in the country.

Enraged by losing their loved ones, the victims of the twin blasts took to streets to protest the lapse of security which resulted in the tragedy, with multiple demonstrations carried out by Christian communities in major cities of the country including Karachi and Lahore.

Another unfortunate incident took place in Lahore on March 15, 2015, when militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction bombed two churches in Lahore’s Youhanabad neighbourhood, killing 15 people and injuring more than 70. Two policemen guarding the church were also amongst the deceased.

The incident sparked violence as the angry mob lynched two people, setting one on fire, suspected of being associates of the perpetrators of the deadly attacks. Later on, they took to streets and clashed with the police, and also attacked city’s Metro bus station.

The Christian community was once again in the crosshair when an unusually large crowd, comprising mostly Christian families celebrating Easter was ripped apart by a powerful explosion at Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. The massive blast, which took place on March 27, 2016, killed as many as 72 people and injured 300, mostly women and children.

The deadly incident was once again claimed by TTP’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

The then army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif called in an emergency huddle to nab those responsible for the attack and civilian leadership reiterating its commitment to fight terrorism.

Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Khalil Geroge and others hold a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to the martyrs of Quetta suicide attack outside National Press Club


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