Quetta, Pakistan – “We heard a big bang. Then there was shooting. The prayer hall’s door broke and fell on us.”
Kal Alaxander and his family were attending a worship service with about 400 others at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta when at least two suicide bombers attempted to destroy the building and kill its congregants during a Christmas service on Sunday.
Nine worshipers died in the attack. Up to 60 others were injured, seven of whom are in critical condition.
A group affiliated with the Islamic State has taken credit for the attack. Pakistani security forces have been placed on high alert and are searching for possible co-conspirators.
Police officials stationed at the church during the service prevented the death toll and injuries from being even higher. Police Chief Moazzam Jah said that his men killed one of the gunmen. The other was able to detonate his device after police had wounded him. Neither was able to enter the sanctuary where the meeting was held.
One official said there might have been as many as four attackers.
Quetta is the capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan. The region bordering Iran and Afghanistan has been the site of ongoing attacks by Islamic sectarian groups. This attack is the first for which the Islamic State has taken credit in the strategic region of Baluchistan which is set to become an essential link in the planned China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa of the Pakistan army condemned the attack on “our brotherly Christian Pakistanis” and promised a united and steadfast response to “such heinous attempts.”
Credits: Fox News, Reuters, Wall Street Journal