A pair of suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack at a Christian church in Peshawar today, killing at least 78 people and wounding scores more. The suicide bombers opened fire on churchgoers before detonating explosives-packed vests within one minute of each other. One of the bombers detonated inside the church, the other detonated outside. From Dawn:
Additional Inspector General Shafqat Malik of the Bomb Disposal Squad told media persons that two suicide bombers had carried out the attack and that body parts of the attackers had been recovered and sent for forensic examinations.
He added that six kilograms of explosives were used in the suicide vests of the bombers.
Capital City Police Chief, Mohammad Ali Babakhel said, “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.”
Moreover, SP (City) Ismail Tariq also confirmed that two attackers opened fire at the security guards deployed at the church killing one guard and injuring the other before entering the church premesis.
The two bomber detonated their explosive vests within an interval of 30 seconds after entering the church.
No group claimed credit for the attack, but it is likely the work of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, or one of the numerous jihadist groups operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the greater northwest. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been especially keen to attack those deemed non-Muslims.
Today’s attack follows last week’s assassinations of the Pakistan’s Army’s top general in Swat, a regimental commander, and a soldier. The Pakistani government is still keen on negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban, despite years of failed peace deals that have led to the Taliban takeover of much of northwestern Pakistan.
Update: According to the BBC, the attack has been claimed by the Taliban-linked group called Jandullah, which said the attack was retribution for drone strikes in the northwest tribal areas.
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