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Peshawar church blast: Death toll rises to 56, over 100 injured

Sep 22, 2013 01:25 PM IST India India

Peshawar: At least 56 people were on Sunday killed and over 100 injured, including women and children, in twin blasts outside a historic church packed with worshippers in Peshawar's Kohati gate district.

Commissioner Peshawar Sahibzada Muhammad Anis said the bombers targeted worshippers when they were coming out of one of the oldest churches in the violence affected city's Kohati Gate district after Sunday mass.

Anis said around 600 to 700 people were present inside the church at the time of the blast. However, a worshipper claimed there were 2000 to 2500 parishioners inside the church. Nearby buildings were also damaged due to the intensity of the blast.

Meanwhile, AIG Bomb Disposal Squad Shafqat said that at least 45 people were killed and 80 others injured when two bombers exploded themselves up in the vicinity of the Church, named 'Pakistan Church' during Sunday prayers.

The dead also included four children of three to eight years of age and one police official, he said.

Injured were admitted in the city's Lady Reading Hospital. The church is situated in a very congested locality which is always jam packed with the people mostly women as the area is the hub markets and shopping centres. The Christian community lives in the vicinity and visited the church for Sunday service in large number.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but radical Islamists have been blamed for previous attacks on the country's minority communities, including Christians. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying terrorists have no religion and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions.

He said such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mind set of the terrorists.

Meanwhile, in another incident, three militant commanders, including a spokesperson of Lashkar-i-Islam, were killed on Sunday when the IED they were making exploded in northwest Pakistan near Afghan border, security sources said.

The incident occurred in the group's Markaz (centre) in the restive tribal region near Nallah in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency bordering Peshawar. The militant group's spokesperson Younas along with Ghufran and Abu Darda of Tariq group of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan were killed in the explosion, sources said.

With Additional Inputs From PTI