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Monday Sep 23, 2013

Peshawar church bombings: Death toll rises to 83

PESHAWAR: The death toll from the suicide bombings at a church on Sunday has risen to 83 after two more injured succumbed to their injuries. Earlier, 81 victims of the tragedy were laid to rest in graveyards across Peshawar.

A four-member committee had been constituted to probe the deadly bombing and a new security plan has been prepared for the protection of minorities.

The initial report of the church attack has revealed that the suicide bombers both male appeared to be 20-25 years old. Police said reports of eyewitnesses on the incident were found to be contradictory, as some of them stated that the attackers were in police uniform, while others told that they were burqa-clad.

The two attackers struck at the end of a service at All Saints Church killing 83 people among them 34 women and seven children.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced three-day period of national mourning following the tragedy.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the "cruel" attack, saying it violated the tenets of Islam.

Pope Francis also spoke out against the violence, calling it "a bad choice of hatred and war".

Sahibzada Anees, one of Peshawar's most senior officials, told reporters the bombers struck when the service had just ended. "We are in an area which is a target of terrorism and within that area there was a special security arrangement for the church. We are in a rescue phase and once it is over we will investigate what went wrong," Anees said.

Former minister for inter-faith harmony Paul Bhatti and provincial lawmaker Fredrich Azeem Ghauri both said the attack was the deadliest ever targeting Christians in Pakistan.

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