Suicide bombers kill 15 people outside churches, 80 injured
LAHORE: At least 15 people, including
two policemen, were killed and over 80 others injured when two Taliban suicide
bombers attacked two packed churches during the Sunday mass in Pakistan’s
biggest Christian colony here in one of the worst attacks on the minority
The attackers blew themselves up at
the gates of Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church in Youhanabad area of
Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, causing stampede as panicked
worshippers ran to save their lives.
The attacks later triggered mob
violence in which two suspected militants were lynched and then set ablaze,
resulting in their deaths. The usual Sunday mass was underway at the churches
when the two suicide bombers reached there and tried to break-in.
“When the guards stopped them from
entering the churches, they blew themselves up (at the gates),” Christian
leader of the locality Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra said. He said a large number of
Christians were present inside the churches at the time of the twin attacks.
“Today the whole Christian community
in Pakistan is devastated and is begging the government to provide it
security,” Sahotra said.
The attacks were claimed by
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. The same group had
claimed the responsibility of a suicide attack on the Wagah border in September
last year in which 60 people were killed.
“Fifteen people, including a boy and
a girl and two policemen guarding the churches, have been killed and more than
80 wounded in the attack,” Director General Health Zahid Pervaiz told reporters
outside the Lahore General Hospital.
He said the death toll could rise as
some injured were critically wounded.
Tahir Bhatti, an eyewitness said, “I
was present in the service in the Catholic Church when I fell on the ground
with the sound of a powerful blast. When I regained consciousness after a
while, I rushed outside where I found several people lying in a pool of blood
and limbs were scattered all around.”
Punjab government spokesman Zaeem
Qadri said, “Five policemen were deployed outside the two churches. Two of them
lost their lives while the other three are in a critical condition. Their
sacrifice has saved the lives of a number of people.”
Soon after the incident, a violent
mob lynched two suspected militants. After beating them severely, the mob tied
them with a rope and set them on fire. Their charred remains were later found at