03/16/2016, 17.08
PAKISTAN
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Pakistan’s Catholic Church condemns attack against bus carrying government employees

by Kamran Chaudhry

According to early reports, this morning’s explosion in the centre of Peshawar was caused by an 8-kg improvised explosive device. So far, 16 people are dead and 30 wounded. Prime Minister Sharif slams the terror attack. "Peace for us is limited to short intervals between bombings,” Anglican minister says.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Pakistan has strongly condemned this morning’s terrorist attack in Peshawar that killed at least 16 people and injured another 30.  A bomb exploded inside a bus carrying government employees going to work.

Cecil Shane Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission of Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, spoke to AsiaNews about the incident.

"We condemn the latest terrorist attack,” he said. “All the victims were government employees. This is the reaction to recent positive steps taken by the State."

The attack took place in the centre of Peshawar, a major city in north-western Pakistan, in one of its busiest streets, congested with morning traffic. Some 50 people were on the vehicle. The wounded remain in critical conditions.

Police Superintendent Kashif Zulfiqar said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) planted inside the bus. About 8 kg of explosives were used. The top part of the bus was blown off and had to be cut to pull out the injured.

The Pakistani city was the scene of other deadly attacks by terrorist groups linked to the Taliban, like the one in December 2014 against a military school that killed 148, mostly children.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the terror attack. In a statement posted on the website of state-run Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, "such cowardly acts could not deter our resolve to weed out terrorism from the country".

Meanwhile, police launched its investigation and is viewing CCTV footage. The security level has been raised in Rawalpindi city

Following the Taliban attack against the military school, the authorities lifted its moratorium on the death penalty and has resumed executions, not only for terrorism-related offences but also for ordinary crimes.

Moreover, they also began cracking down on Islamic schools to curb the spread of radical ideas.

Rev Jaffrey Samuel, who spent his childhood in Peshawar, expressed alarm at the worsening security situation. "Peace for us is limited to short intervals between bombings," he told AsiaNews.

“Whenever we put faith in law and order, tragic incidents like these wreck our nerves,” he explained. “Apparently, the Taliban do not want peace talks anymore and we should prepare for war".

As the Anglican pastor of Christ Church in nearby Nowshera City, the clergyman is well placed to know the difficulties people face in the area.

"Life is tough for Christian pastors and priests,” he noted. “Our biggest challenge is to organise safe Sunday prayers and church activities.”

“My church is located in an army cantonment but the area is usually sealed. Our sermons usually carry a message of encouragement to heed the Gospel without fear.”

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