14 dead in Lahore church blasts; enraged residents lynch two suspects

Lahore(Web TEAM): Bombs outside two churches in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed 14 people and wounded more than 55 during Sunday services when Taliban suicide attackers targeted two packed churches in Pakistan’s biggest Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, the capital of Punjab. Witnesses said quick action by a security guard prevented many more deaths. The attackers targeted Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church in Youhanabad area during Sunday mass, causing stampede as panicked worshippers ran to save their lives.

About 55 people, including women and children, were injured in the blasts. The injured were rushed to Lahore’s General Hospital.

Initial reports suggested that two suicide bombers carried out the attack, Dawn reported. One young man, alleged to be involved in the attack, was beaten to death by the enraged mob which then set his body on fire. Two suspects have been arrested from the blast sites.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group Jamatul Ahrar claims responsibility for today’s attack.

After the blasts, enraged resident lynched two suspects, police said. “I was sitting at a shop near the church when a blast jolted the area. I rushed towards the spot and saw the security guard scuffle with a man who was trying to enter the church, after failing, he blew himself up,” said witness Amir Masih. “I saw his body parts flying through the air.” The guard died as well, he said. It was not clear if the first blast was also triggered by a suicide bomber, Masih said. Journalist Riaz Ahmed said he had seen the two burnt bodies at an intersection.

At least 14 people were killed and 55 wounded, said Khawaja Rafiq, the health adviser to the provincial chief minister. “The rescue operation is still underway and the death toll may increase,” rescue services spokesman Sajjad Hussain said.

Militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the last decade or more. Many blame the government for doing little to protect them. Pakistan’s police are notoriously poorly trained and under funded.

Lahore is the capital of Punjab, Pakistan’s wealthiest and most populous province and the political heartland of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The city is generally considered peaceful compared with many other areas of Pakistan, but violence there has been increasing after the government’s failed attempts to hold peace talks with the Taliban last year.

After the talks failed, the military launched an offensive in the remote northwestern region of North Waziristan along the Afghan border to push the Taliban from the last major region they controlled. The military now holds the major urban centres there, but residents say many militants fled before the offensive began and others remain in rural areas.

Youhanabad is Pakistan’s biggest Christian locality, housing at least one million people. The minority communities in Pakistan have long been the target of attacks by the extremist and militant groups. In 2013, twin suicide attacks were carried out at the All Saint’s Church in Peshawar’s Kohati Gate area, killing 80 and wounding over 100 others.

With agency inputs.

Posted by on March 15, 2015. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.