QUETTAL At least eight people were killed while 44 others were injured when terrorists stormed Bethel Memorial Methodist Church located on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road on Sunday, Balochistan’s Inspector General (IG) Moazzam Ansari and Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed.
Sources at Civil Hospital, Quetta said two women were among the dead while the injured include women, children and elderly people.
Balochistan’s Inspector General Moazzam Ansari said two suicide bombers stormed the church when service was ongoing. There were about 400 worshipers inside the church, but security forces’ timely response averted a major tragedy, he added.
One of the attackers was reported to have detonated his suicide vest near the church’s main door after receiving serious injuries as security forces repelled the attack. Another was shot dead near the church’s entrance by security forces after an intense gunfight, the police chief said.
Commissioner and DIG Quetta later said that two terrorists escaped from the scene and the security forces were chasing them for arrest.
Eyewitnesses and provincial lawmaker Aniqa Irfan, who had reached the church soon after the attack, corroborated the claim.
After being informed of the incident, a heavy contingent of security forces arrived at the site of the explosion and cordoned it off. A bomb disposal squad also arrived at the site to ascertain the nature of the blast.
The church is located in the city’s high-security zone. A large contingent of police and Frontier Corps personnel surrounded the area and conducted a search and the Inspector General later said the Church area has been cleared.
The Bethel Memorial Church has been the target of a terrorist attack in the past. Security had been beefed up for the church after the last attack, which occurred a few years ago.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed that four militants targeted the church.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Quetta on Sunday. In a statement condemning the attack, he said the attack on church is tragic and cowardly.
He said anti-state elements want to spread violence in the country but we will continue war against terrorism till the complete eradication of such elements from the country.
The Minister said Islam teaches us respect of minorities and their places of worship.
He said the protection of religious freedom of minorities is duty of the whole nation.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly have also condemned the attack in Quetta. They expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack. They said terrorists have no religion, they are enemies of humanity.
They said all religions condemn such act by terrorists of targeting places of worship for their nefarious designs.
Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri have strongly condemned the bomb explosion.
They have directed health authorities to provide best medical treatment to the wounded persons.
The Chief Minister appreciated the timely action of the police and security forces that prevented a major tragedy. He has sought a report from the Inspector General of Police.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal has condemned the terrorist attack.
In a tweet message, he said Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism cannot be deterred by these cowardly acts of terrorists. INP