QUETTA: Christmas church services and other celebrations are being held this weekend under the gaze of armed guards and security cameras after gunmen attacked a Methodist church in Quetta as a Sunday service began.
In Quetta, members of a Bethel Memorial Methodist Church were repairing the damage done by a pair of suicide bombers who attacked during a service last Sunday, killing 10 people and wounding more than 50.
Broken pews and damaged musical instruments were still strewn around church grounds on Thursday, with about a dozen police standing guard.
“We’re making efforts to complete repairs and renovation before Christmas, but it seems difficult in view of the lot of damage,” said Pastor Simon Bashir, who was leading the service when the attackers struck. He was not hurt.
The government of Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is capital, plans to deploy 3,000 security personnel in and around 39 Christian churches this Sunday and Monday.
Provincial police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari told Reuters volunteers from churches were also being trained to conduct body searches and identify worshippers entering churches.
In Lahore, where an Easter Day bombing in a park last year killed more than 70 people, police Detective Inspector General Haider Ashraf said every church would be monitored with CCTV cameras as part of security measures.
Christian Kaleem Masih lost his aunt in the Easter attack, which was claimed by Islamic State, and his wife was wounded, but he said they would be attending Christmas services.
“Christmas is our holy day,” Kaleem said. “We will fulfil our religious duty by celebrating it with smiles on our faces.”— Reuters