Accessibility links

Pakistani Christians Protest After Deadly Suicide Bombings

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

PESHAWAR -- Pakistani Christians are protesting across the country after a double suicide bombing on a church on September 22 killed more than 80 people.

The attack on the All Saints Church in the northwestern city of Peshawar is believed to be the deadliest attack ever against Christians in Pakistan. Officials said the death toll from the attack has risen to at least 81 killed. More than 130 were wounded.

Angry Christians on September 23 blocked roads around the country to protest the bombing, chanting and calling on the Pakistani authorities to bring those responsible for the bombings to justice.

"There should be no attacks on a church or a mosque or an imambargah" -- a Shi'ite place of worship -- "because all human beings are the same. We are all believers in God, and we want peace," said Parvez Masih, a Christian attending a protest in the capital Islamabad. "We have decided to stand up against terrorism, which should be brought to an end."

'We Are Also Pakistanis'

In the eastern city of Lahore, Perveen Akhtar, a Christian woman, called for more protection.

"We are appealing for justice," she said. "We need safety for our churches and security should be placed around our places of worship. We are also Pakistanis, we are your brothers and sisters."

The bombings also attracted widespread international condemnation.

Speaking in the Italian city of Cagliari on Sunday, Pope Francis said that such attacks were a result of hatred and that only peace can help in building a better world.

A faction of Pakistan's umbrella Taliban movement, Junood ul-Hifsa, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, saying it was to avenge U.S. drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives in the country's tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Just under 2 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people are Christians. They face discrimination, but attacks against them have been rare.

With additional reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters