In Pakistan, suicide blasts at 2 churches leave 15 dead

Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for deadly blasts at two churches

A pair of suicide bombers attacked two Christian churches in this eastern Pakistani city on Sunday as worshipers prayed inside, killing 15 people, officials said. It was the latest assault against religious minorities in this increasingly fractured country.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban,  Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement emailed to reporters, and warned, “There will be more of such attacks.”

Afterward, a Christian mob blocked a major highway, ransacked a bus terminal and burned two people to death for suspected involvement in the attacks. Christians blocked roads in other major Pakistani cities as well.

The explosions occurred in quick succession in the Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad at churches about 650 yards apart. At least 70 people were wounded, said Zahid Pervez, the provincial director general of health, who gave the death toll.

Hospitals filled with casualties and scenes of mourning. Shaheen Bibi's 10-year-old son, Abhishak, was among those killed.

“My son had gone to the church to pray for a good result in his examinations,” Bibi said as she cried and struck her head against the chest of a relative. “He wanted me to sew him some new clothes if he passed his examinations.”

Life in Pakistan is increasingly dangerous for religious minorities, especially Christians. They have been targeted by Sunni Muslim militants and are discriminated against in wider society, where they are often limited to menial jobs such as garbage collection.

 

 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:19 p.m.: This article was updated with a higher death toll and other details.

3:06 a.m.: This article was updated with a higher death toll.

2:58 a.m.: This article was updated with new information throughout.

This article was first posted at 1:42 a.m.

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