PHOTOS: Pakistanis mourn in wake of Taliban church attacks

Anguished relatives grieve over Christians killed in bomb blasts in two Pakistani churches during Sunday services.

By REUTERS
March 16, 2015 12:04
2 minute read.

A Christian woman mourns the death of her relative who was killed in a suicide attack on a church in Lahore March 15, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Christians across Pakistan observed a day of mourning on Monday a day after blasts at two churches in Lahore killed at least 15 people and injured scores of others.

The attacks took place during Sunday services and witnesses said quick action by a security guard prevented many more deaths.

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A Pakistani Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The blasts went off minutes apart in a majority Christian suburb of the eastern city. Police said they targeted two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, which are very close to each other.

Among the dead was nine-year-old Sajid Umar, a third-grade student in a local school. Relatives and neighbors gathered around his body on Monday as his distraught mother wailed .

Shocked residents of the teeming city scanned newspapers laid out on roadside stalls. Many blamed the government for its inability to stop the spiraling violence in the country.

"What sort of government is this? A person can neither go anywhere nor do anything. Daily blasts, daily troubles. What are they doing? They seem to be able to do nothing," said local resident Ismail Khan on his way to work.

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As news of the attack spread on Sunday, large crowds of incensed Christians took to the streets in protest in several parts of Pakistan.

An angry crowd in Lahore attacked two men they accused of involvement in the explosions, killing both of them with sticks. The bludgeoned bodies were then set alight at a street corner and later dragged through the streets and strung up at a metro station which had been vandalized.

Protesters also blocked a main road in Lahore and attacked vehicles on the road. Police and several politicians were chased from the scene, residents said.

Around 200 Christians rallied in the port city of Karachi, protesting the lack of security at their places of worship. Islamist militants in Pakistan have attacked Christians and other religious minorities often over the last decades.

Many Christians, who make up less than two percent of Pakistan's population of more than 180 million, accuse the government of doing little to protect them, saying politicians are quick to offer condolences after an attack but slow to act to improve security.

At least 80 worshipers were killed in an explosion at a church in Peshawar in 2013, in what is believed to be the deadliest ever attack on the country's Christians.


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