More blood in Peshawar. Christians pray for victims and peace in the country
Peshawar (AsiaNews) - More blood and violence in Peshawar, capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, the theatre in the last week of three suicide bombings of Islamist origin. Yesterday morning a car bomb placed in the city market exploded at rush hour, killing 33 people and injuring more than 70. At the time of the outbreak, the nearby All Saints Church was holding a ceremony in memory of the victims of the massacre of 22 September; the faithful fled the place of worship, fearing a new attack anti-Christian. A witness, Zubair Yousaf, recounted to AsiaNews: "We were in church and we were praying, when two strong explosions shook the walls. Immediately the terrible images from last Sunday sprang to my mind. We went out to see what was happening. It was all so sudden, people were shouting. We rushed to help the people in the market".
Yesterday's bombing was the third in a week in Peshawar, in a spiral of violence that police and authorities do not seem to be able to stem. In a few days more than 200 people have died, including 175 in the attack on the Protestant Church on 22 September. Hundreds of wounded, in addition to the missing of whom there is no trace. Seven days after the attack on the All Saints Church, in fact, 18 children and 13 girls aged between 13 and 17 years are still missing. From 2009 to today the bazaar of Kisa Khawani, where the car bomb exploded yesterday morning, has suffered at least 13 attacks; authorities have increased security levels in sensitive areas, including churches, markets and government buildings.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although the government is pointing the finger at the Pakistani Taliban and Islamist movements affiliated with the galaxy of religious-based terrorism. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has proposed negotiations with fundamentalist leaders, but the preconditions posed to dialogue- a laying down of arms and an end of the carnage - were rejected. The spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban said the disarmament demand is a sign of the Prime Minister's "lack of seriousness". Interior Minister Nisar Hussain speaks of "some elements" who want to "destabilise the region" without specifying which ones.
Meanwhile, across the country masses and Christian ceremonies are being held to commemorate the victims of the massacre in Peshawar. Many have gone to church to honor the memory of the dead and pray for a speedy recovery for the injured. George Maggs says: "My father and my mother are still hospitalized in critical condition, my eight year old brother is in a specialized centre in Islamabad and has undergone surgery. We are still in a state of shock."
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mons. Rufin Anthony, Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi (under whose jurisdiction the city of Peshawar falls, ndr), stresses that "we celebrated a special mass for bereaved families. Let us pray for peace. Targeting innocent people is a cowardly act. For those involved in the massacre everything has changed, they will no longer be the same. Pakistan is at a crossroads, we must stand together as a nation and condemn the acts of terrorism in no uncertain terms".