Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Nine killed, dozens injured in suicide attack on Quetta church


QUETTA, Dec 17 (DNA): At least nine people were killed while dozens other injured when two gunmen wearing explosives-filled vests stormed Bethel Memorial Methodist Church located on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road on Sunday afternoon.

According to details, an explosion took place initially and was followed by a gunfight.

Police, Frontier Corps personnel, Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) and Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) were immediately dispatched to the scene. The area was cordoned off and a search and rescue operation was carried out.

There were about 400 worshipers inside the church, but security forces’ timely response averted a major tragedy, he added.

An emergency was imposed in all the hospitals of the city. Rescue teams also arrived at the location and transported the injured to Civil Hospital Quetta.

Inspector General of Balochistan Police Moazzam Jah Ansari gave the toll, which was confirmed by Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti.

IG Ansari said that police personnel assigned for the security of church reacted vigilantly and averted a larger loss. “One of them blew himself up at the gate of the church while the police shot the second terrorist dead. Both of the attackers could not enter the premises of the church,” he said.

The city administration has enforced an emergency in Civil Hospital and other medical institutions of the provincial capital.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said that at least four militants targeted the church. He told that police intercepted and shot one bomber outside but the second attacker managed to reach the church’s main door where he blew himself up. Two others fled the scene as the personnel tightened noose on them. However; none of them succeeded in entering the church building.

The minister said about 250 people usually attending the church on Sundays, but attendance had swelled because it was close to Christmas.

The premises of the chruch has been declared  clear  by the security forces while search operation is still underway in the surrounding areas, added Bugti.

A large number of people, majority of them women and children, were present in the church for the Sunday services at the time of blast. A female eye-witness say that at least 400 people were present inside the church.

Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri also strongly condemned the attack.

They have directed health authorities to provide best medical treatment to the wounded persons.

Chief Minister of Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri strongly condemned the blast outside the Church in Quetta and termed it as cowardly and regrettable. He also directed the officials concerned to extend every type of cooperation to the families of bomb victims.

The Chief Minister said the terrorist were the enemies of Pakistan who wanted to destabilize the country. “We stand together in the fight against the evil and we are absolutely sure that it will be defeated,” he added.

“Balochistan is in conflict zone and the government and the people of the province are in a state of war. They are fighting against terrorists and our war will continue till complete elimination of the terrorists,” he highlighted.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

In their separate statements, they prayed for the departed souls and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families. The President said these cowardly attacks cannot shake our resolve to fight menace of terrorism.

Meanwhile, SSP Operations said that two attackers were killed in the exchange of fire between the terrorists and security forces.

Inspector General Balochistan Moazzam Ansari, speaking to the press, said that two suicide bombers attacked the church.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said, “Quetta church attack targeting our brotherly Christian Pakistanis is an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations and create religious cleavages.”

He commended the swift response of security forces, saying “Effective response by LEAs [law enforcement agencies] is commendable. We stay united and steadfast to respond against such heinous attempts.”

Foreign office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “Attack of terrorists on Zarghoon road church in Quetta is condemned. Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism cannot be deterred by these cowardly acts.”

In a tweet, PTI chief Imran Khan condemned the incident and demanded that the government must ensure proper security for churches as Christmas is approaching.

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.

Federal Minister for Defence Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan has strongly condemned the suicide attack on the church in Quetta. The Federal Minister expressed deep grief at the loss of innocent lives.  In his condemnation message, he said Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism cannot be deterred by these cowardly acts.

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.

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. DNA

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