Twin suicide blasts played havoc at a Church in Kohati Gate an interior locality of Peshawar Sunday killing at least 70 people including women and children and injured 120, Provincial Health Minister, Shaukat Yusufzai said here.
The majority of the dead included women and children as the two bombers detonated explosive wrapped around their bodies amidst in the congregation of 500 to 600 worshippers in the city Church during the concluding Sunday service.
The horrific blasts sparked widespread protests by the Christian Community all over the country. In Peshawar, the Christian community resorted to violence by burning tyres on Circular roads chanting slogans against the Provincial government.
Chairman PTI, Imran Khan and Chief Minister KPK, Pervaiz Khattak also rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar to inquire about the health of the injured of the blasts.
AIG Bomb Disposal Squad Shafqat confirmed that two bombers exploded themselves up in the vicinity of the Church, named ‘Pakistan Church’ during Sunday prayers, killing at least 70 people and injuring 120 others.
Around 12 kg material used by the bombers each weighing six kg, the BDS Chief Shafqat said. The explosive materials were consisted of ball bearings which proved fatal in killing the maximum people, he maintained. The AIG further informed that they have taken in custody the heads of both the bombers and sketch would be prepared soon.
The blast occurred when the people were coming out of the Church after Sunday service, the eye witness account said. There were around 500 to 600 people inside the Church at the time of explosions.
Eye witnesses said that the bombers guise in police uniforms.
The injured have been shifted to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital and admitted in precarious condition where condition of 13 stated to be critical. The ISPR authorities told APP that 11 of the injured have been admitted in the CMH as Army Doctors have been called in and best emergency medical treatment is being provided to the injured.
The blasts occurred in one of the oldest Church of Peshawar built in 1883 situated in a very congested locality which is always jam packed with the people mostly women as the area is the hub of markets and shopping centres.
The Christian community lives in the vicinity and visited the church for Sunday service in large number. The Christian community staged a protest demo against the blasts in their worship place during Sunday prayer and burnt tyres on main Circular road. The 1122 rescue teams rushed to site and conducted relief activities.
The police and security forces cordoned off the entire area and started search operation. Emergency has been declared in the city’s main hospitals. A worshiper said that first a cracker threw inside the Church exploded and after that a huge blast carried out.
The dead also included four children of three to eight years of age. One police cop also among the dead. SP City Ismail Kharak described the blast a national tragedy. “We are facing a tough challenge, it is difficult to control suicide bombing”, SP opined.
Meanwhile Council for International Religion has announced three days mourning and three holidays in the missionary schools and colleges in Peshawar.
Talking to APP, Deputy Commissioner Peshawar, Zaheer-ul-Islam said that two suicide bomber entered in to the church and blew themselves. He said that blast killed 56 persons who came out of the main church building after attending Sunday prayer.
He told that one policeman was killed and other sustained critical injuries in the blast who were stationed in the church for security purposes. He said that it was most probable that bombers entered into church from other then the main gate.
Zaheer-ul-Islam further added that the law enforcing agencies including police have been investigation the incident. He also confirmed that two policemen, who were on duty, one killed and the other got critical injuries. Reverend of the Cathedral Church Ijaz Gill who also injured in the blast, told APP the church was built way back in 1883.
He said that the blast occurred during the concluding prayers. The Church building has been damaged by the blasts.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor, Engr. Shaukat Ullah, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI Chief Imran Khan, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Allama Sajid Naqvi of Fiqah e Jaafira, Maulana Fazlur Rehman have strongly condemned the suicide attack at the Girja Ghar and expressed his deep shock and sorrow over the loss of precious lives.
Khyber Governor Engr.Shaukatullah Khan has also appealed to the people fully cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and help them in bringing the elements involved to the court of law and justice.
MNA and veteran ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and former Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain visited the site of the blast and expressed sympathies with Christian community.
Later in brief interaction with the mediamen Mian Iftikhar who also lost his lone son in war against terror said that his party was ready to cooperate with the government in the establishment of peace in the region.
He said that government functionaries should have visited the site after the blasts to boost up the moral of the aggrieved community.
ANP also announced three days mourning to express solidarity with the Christian community.