Peshawar (AsiaNews) - Over one hundred people have been killed and 130 people injured in a suicide attack outside a Protestant church in Peshawar, capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , in northern Pakistan . According to preliminary reports two suicide bombers blew themselves up this morning close to the Christian place of worship, as faithful were leaving the building after attending the Sunday service . Local sources said that the double explosion also caused damage to the surrounding buildings. Between 600 and 700 people were present at the time of the attack. The victims included several women and children , a portion of injured were admitted to Lady Reading Hospital , but the number is too high and were also alerted other medical facilities in the country.
Paul Bhatti , former Minister for National Harmony and president of APMA ( All Pakistan Minorities Alliance ) rushed to the site to see firsthand the conditions of the wounded and try to spread calm. "More than a hundred people were killed - Paul Bhatti confirmed to AsiaNews - there are many injured in very serious condition ... we expect a greater number of victims." The former minister pointed the finger at "terrorists who seek to affect not only Christians, but all Pakistan as seen days ago with the murder of an army general. The religious element - he added - is not predominant, but the political aspect is more important". Bhatti does not spare criticism of the provincial government and the central executive in Islamabad , the first for failing to " properly protect" a building included in the "red zone and high-risk". The government of Prime Minister Sharif is involved in peace talks " and is not involving religious minorities, relegating them to the margins ." "We are victims of this violence - he concludes - and among Christians there is anger and resentment. Tomorrow with members of APMA will make a large peaceful protest in Islamabad ."
The terrorists - attributable to Islamic extremist movements, although so far there are no official claims - hit the symbolic place if worship with more than eight kilograms of explosives. The All Saints Church , in fact, was built in 1883 inspired by the structures of the mosques , it is facing Mecca and is a landmark building for its attempt to promote peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority in Pakistan.
It is located in a sensitive area of the city, Kohati Gate, where there are also three other churches and several Muslim places of worship . The city of Peshawar has declared three days of mourning; condemnation was expressed by President Himari Hussain , Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif , the Pti leader Imran Khan and the main political and religious leaders Pakistanis. Many - including imams and Islamic spiritual leaders - have used social networks to express their condolences, for a "targeted and cowardly" attack which, again, has targeted innocent victims.
The former ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman , who led a tough battle against Islamic extremism in the past , has appealed to the government to " put an end to peace talks " initiated in recent days with the Taliban and extremist groups. The new government in Islamabad had in fact announced the intention to enter into negotiations with the Islamist fringe, which, in turn and in a short time, responded with bombs and deaths.
With a population of over 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and the second Muslim nation after Indonesia. Just under 80 per cent are Sunni Muslim, and 20 per cent are Shia. Hindus are around 1.85 per cent; Christians are 1.6 per cent and Sikhs 0.04 per cent. Violence against ethnic or religious minorities is commonplace across the country, especially Christians a favorite target for Islamic fundamentalists. There have been dozens of incidents of violence, including targeted attacks against entire communities - Gojra in 2009 or Joseph Colony Lahore in March last year - or abuses against individuals, often perpetrated under the pretext of blasphemy laws that end up hitting innocent victims ( the case of the Christian minor Rimsha Masih ) . ( DS )