- (Photo: Reuters/Athar Hussain)
A large church bombing in Pakistan has killed 81 after a pair of Taliban suicide bombers entered the church and detonated explosives during worship at an historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, in what is being called the worst ever attack against the country's Christian minority.
Christians in the country have been left outraged and have accused the government of not doing enough to stop the violence directed towards them. They have been joined by some Muslim groups who are also protesting at the lack of protection from authorities to those wanting to worship safely.
The latest church attack occurred during the end of a worship service at the 19th-century All Saints Church in Peshawar, police chief Mohammad Ali Babakhel told local publication Dawn.
"The suicide bomber tried to attack the people, but when he was stopped by the police, he detonated the bomb," he said. "The second blast was carried out inside the church."
Police have revealed that in addition to the 81 killed, approximately 120 others were wounded in the devastating attack.
Fourth-year medical student Noel Williams, 20, died in the attack with members of his family.
"I'm trying to recall each and every thing he said the last time we met," Williams' friend Meraj Aleem, 19, a dentistry student in Peshawar, told Dawn. "He was a passionate student and more so a youngster who wanted to work for the betterment of his country."
The Pakistani Jundullah arm of the Taliban has already claimed responsibility for the bombings. The group has said it will continue to target non-Muslims in the country until the United States halts drone attacks, the group has told the Associated Press.
"All non-Muslims in Pakistan are our target, and they will remain our target as long as America fails to stop drone strikes in our country," Ahmad Marwat, who identified himself as the spokesman for the terrorist group, told AP.
The more widely known Pakistani Taliban group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has denied responsibility for the attack.