Church blasts target Pakistan’s Christians
Campaigners take to the streets in protest for greater security
Fourteen people were killed and nearly 80 injured after suicide bombers in Pakistan targeted two churches last weekend, in an attack claimed by a faction of the country’s Taliban.
The churches, both in Lahore, were targeted just minutes apart from each other and were located in a majority Christian suburb of the busy eastern city.
Protestors took to the streets after the blasts and clashed with police as they caused disruption to the city, whilst some reportedly burned two people to death who were believed to have been involved in the attacks.
Over the past decade, attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan have not been uncommon with many in the lower-represented groups demanding more protection from the government.
Many Christians claim the politicians are quick to offer their condolences yet little actually changes in the security provided to followers of their faith.
After Sunday’s attacks, witnesses said the death toll could have been higher if it was not for the actions of security guards and police assigned to protect the churches.
One witness, Amir Masih, told Reuters: “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.”
Another witness, Akram Bhatti, added: “I was present outside Christ Church when I saw a young man in his early 20s wearing black clothes.
“He was stopped by the guard. The attacker exploded the suicide vest.”
The Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Punjab’s capital.
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.