Pakistan Christians Protest, Hold Vigils as Details of Ball-Bearing Packed Bombs Emerge From Church Bombings That Killed 85

Pakistani Christians have expressed grief and outrage on Monday, holding protests as well as prayer vigils in response to the shocking weekend church bombings that killed 85 worshippers at a church service on Sunday. The reaction has come as further details emerge about the bombings, which have confirmed that Taliban Islamic terrorists packed their bombs with metal ball bearings to maximize the bloodshed and death toll in their suicide bombings in Peshawar, now believed to be the largest in the country's history directed at its Christian population.

(Photo: Reuters/Mohsin Raza)A member of the Pakistani Christian community holds a placard as he shouts slogans during a protest rally to condemn Sunday's suicide attack in Peshawar on a church, with others in Lahore September 23, 2013. A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the 130-year-old Anglican church in Pakistan after Sunday mass, killing at least 85 people in the deadliest attack on Christians in the predominantly Muslim country.

In Peshawar, mourners viscerally reacted as they took in just how many casualties the bomb had caused.

"Some broke down on the spot, seeing the long line of coffins, the hundreds of women sitting beside them, clutching them and sobbing, the men hugging and crying, their children looking bewildered," described the BBC's Aleem Maqbool.

Todd Nettleton, a spokesperson for Christian advocacy group, Voice of the Matyrs, has told The Christian Post that the high number of causalities had been strategically planned by terrorists.

"It seems very clear that this bomber or bombers wanted maximum body count," Nettleton told The Christian Post. "They waited until service was over, when people milling around, apparently there was a food distribution going on so people were lined up to receive food...our contacts say that when the dust settles the death toll will be over 100."

The BBC also reported that ball bearings had been stuffed into the bombs to "cause maximum carnage."

While many mourned, others in Peshawar channeled their rage by smashing windows at the hospitals where the victims were.

In Karachi, protesters set fire to a house and other buildings before police broke up the riot with tear gas and aerial gunshots.

"Some protesters pelted stones at some shops that ignited a brawl and scuffle between the two groups (of Christians and Muslims) who also attacked each other with stones," police chief Muneer Shaikh told AFP.

Another riot in Karachi claimed the life of a Muslim man, said police, who said they now had the violence under control.

In the capital, more than 600 protesters blocked a major highway during rush hour. A crowd of close to 2,000 later marched in front of Parliament.

Many of the Christians attacked the government for its seeming indifference to their situation.

"Our people have been killed ... Nobody seems to bother about us. No one apprehended the killers," said Aqeel Masih, one of the protesters told the Associated Press.

"They are looking at government, looking at police, saying 'How can this happen? You know churches are targeted. This is Peshawar, it is a hotbed of radical Islamic activity. Why wasn't there more protection, or more police presence there?'" said Nettleman.

Nettleman added that some members of the government, which has called for three days of mourning following the attacks, have expressed outrage at the church bombings, suggesting a potential watershed moment in the treatment of Pakistani Christians.

"A sliver of hopefulness out of this situation is that there have been a couple of government leaders that spoken out against the attack. The prime minister has said 'This is not acceptable under Islam. This is not acceptable to attack women and children,'" said Nettleton. "So those words are pretty to say in the hours after a big attack but what we hope to see in the future is more protection and more movement to say 'This is not a part of Islam. This is not acceptable'."

"There are some government leaders who are saying the right things right now, but we wait to see what their actions are," he added.

Pakistani Muslims make up 96 percent of Pakistan's population; Christians make up just 2 percent of the country's 180 million people.