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Nine ppl killed in a Church attack in Quetta

18 December, 2017

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QUETTA: Two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in Quetta on Sunday, killing at least nine people and wounding up to 56, officials said, in the latest attack claimed by Islamic State in the country.

Police guards stationed at the church entrance and on its roof killed one of the bombers but the second attacker detonated his explosives-filled vest outside its prayer hall just after Sunday services began in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, said Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial home minister.

Balochistan police chief Moazzam Jah said there were nearly 400 worshippers in the church for the pre-Christmas service. The death toll could have been much higher if the gunmen had forced their way into the sanctuary, he said.

Jah said the venue – Bethel Memorial Methodist Church – was on high alert as Christian places of worship are often targeted by extremists over the Christmas season. “We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him,” he said.

Islamic State claimed the attack, the group’s Amaq news agency said in an online statement, without providing any evidence for its claim.

Another police official, Abdur Razaq Cheema, said two other attackers escaped.

Broken wooden benches, shards of glass and musical instruments were scattered around a Christmas tree inside the prayer hall that was splashed with blood stains.

An eyewitness who was present inside the church at the time of the attack said the attackers had scuffled with the building’s guard when their attempt to enter the main hall undetected failed.

When they shot the guard dead, police officials posted around the church noticed something was amiss and opened fire on the attackers. One of the attackers was reported to have then detonated his suicide vest at the church’s main door after receiving bullet injuries. Another was shot dead near the church’s entrance by security forces, the police chief said. The injuries caused to worshipers were mainly the result of wooden splinters from the door and glass blown out of the church’s windows, IG Ansari maintained.

Provincial and security officials repeatedly stressed that if the attackers had managed to breach the church’s doors, the death toll could have been much higher. They lauded the quick response of security forces posted to the church which prevented the attackers from causing maximum damage.

The director general of civil defence said late in the afternoon that the two attackers – who officials believe to have been between 16 and 20 years of age – had strapped 15 kilogrammes of explosives to their bodies. One successfully detonated his explosive vest, while the other was defused.

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