04/12/2006, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Church condemns Karachi bomb blast and joins Muslims for peace

Qaiser Felix
Archbishop of Karachi Evaristo Pinto tells AsiaNews that "our sympathies go to those who have lost their dear ones and are in mourning. Our people are with them to bring about reconciliation, harmony and unity".

Karachi (AsiaNews) –  On behalf of the Catholic Church of Karachi, Mgr Evaristo Pinto, archbishop of Karachi, condemned the bomb blast at Nishtar Park that left a trail of death and destruction and prays for all those who lost their life, God's most precious gift.

The archbishop spoke to AsiaNews in the wake of yesterday's twin suicide attack in the southern part of the city, which like the country is predominantly Sunni, where the faithful had gathered to celebrate the birth of the prophet Muhammad.

According to public officials, one or two suicide bombers blew themselves up under a stage where leaders of the Sunni Tehrik group were leading evening prayers before some 50,000 people. Unofficial sources have put the death toll at 57 with dozens of wounded.

"Our sympathies go to those who have lost their dear ones and are in mourning," Archbishop Pinto said. "May the Lord console them and be their support and strength."

"We wish to assure the citizens of Karachi that our people are with them to bring about reconciliation, harmony and unity," the prelate added.

Among the dead were several locally well-known leaders of Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat, which has hundreds of thousands of followers. To prevent further violence, city officials ordered schools and offices closed.

General Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, told the nation "that those responsible shall not go unpunished" but he also urged foreign business franchises like US fast food outlets to remain closed during the investigations.

Karachi has been the scene of several bombings and other attacks against the Americans since Pakistan became a key US ally after the September 11 attacks.

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