Pakistani Christians denounce church bomb attack

There was mourning across Pakistan's Christian communities for those who died in the bombing. Picture: AFP/Getty
There was mourning across Pakistan's Christian communities for those who died in the bombing. Picture: AFP/Getty
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ANGRY Pakistani Christians have denounced the deadliest attack ever in their country against members of their faith as the death toll from the church bombings climbed to 85.

A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers outside a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday.

The attack on the All Saints Church in the city of Peshawar, which also wounded over 140 people, happened as worshippers were leaving after service to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn.

A wing of the Pakistani Taleban quickly claimed responsibility for the bombings, saying they would continue to target non-Muslims until the US stops drone attacks in the remote tribal region of Pakistan.

Angry Christians blocked roads around the country to protest the bombings. On one of the main roads coming into the capital of Islamabad, demonstrators burned tires and demanded government protection for the Christian minority.

“Our people have been killed ... nobody seems to bother about us. No one apprehended the killers,” said Aqeel Masih, one of the protesters.

In the southern port city of Karachi, a few hundred demonstrators chanted “Stop killing Christians!” and demanded that those who attacked their community be held accountable.

“We want an end to extremism, terrorism and barbarism in Pakistan,” said Bashir John, a priest.

Missionary schools around the country would be closed for three days, said Christian leader Nasir Gill. He said 68 bodies of Peshawar victims were buried on Sunday, the rest yesterday.

Churches and other places important to the Christian community in Peshawar have been given extra security, said police official Noor Khan.

But this has not been sufficient to appease angry Christians, who want the Pakistan government to take even stronger steps to protect them.

“What dialogue are we talking about? Peace with those who are killing innocent people,” asked the head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, Paul Bhatti, whose brother, a federal minister, was gunned down by an Islamic extremist in 2011.

“They don’t want dialogue,” said Mr Bhatti. “They don’t want peace.”

The death toll yesterday climbed to 85, after seven more of the wounded in Peshawar died, according to the commissioner of Peshawar, Sahibzada Anees.

“Our state and our intelligence agencies are so weak that anybody can kill anyone anytime. It is a shame,” said Bhatti.

Christians are a minority in Pakistan, where roughly 96 per cent of the country’s 180 million people are Muslim. The rest belong to other religions.