Church bombing in Pakistan
At least 85 people were killed and dozens injured in a double suicide bombing at a church service in north-west Pakistan on Sunday.
Two attackers struck at the end of a service at All Saints Church in Peshawar, the main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The bomb blasts, carried out while worshippers were leaving Mass, left a scene of devastation.
CAFOD’s Robert Cruickshank said: “Religious intolerance is undermining the stability of Pakistan, and this attack on the Christian community deals a blow to the progress of the country.
“Both Christians and Muslims are praying for peace across Pakistan, for an end to the violence, and for those in leadership to promote tolerance between communities.”
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has announced three days of mourning. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Chair of our sister agency Caritas Pakistan, said: “I urge all Christians to remain peaceful and pray.”
Pakistan's Ulema Council, an association of leading Muslim scholars, condemned the blast, saying: “We are with our Christian brothers and sisters in this time of grief and sorrow.”
Pope Francis has also spoken out against the violence, calling it “a bad choice of hatred and war. Only the path of peace can build a better world.”
The tragedy sparked nationwide protests. More than 500 people gathered on Monday in front of the Punjab Assembly, where they raised slogans against attackers, prayed for peace and demanded justice. They included priests, staff of the Justice and Peace Commission, religious superiors, as well as staff from Caritas Pakistan.
All Saints Church was built in 1883, inspired by the structure of mosques. It is well known for its attempt to promote peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in Pakistan.
CAFOD has recently responded to several humanitarian emergencies in Pakistan, including the floods that devastated the country in 2010, and the subsequent floods of 2011, 2012 and 2013.