London: December 17, 2017. (PCP) 8 Christians have been killed and at least a further 33 injured during an Islamist attack at a church in Quetta, West Pakistan, were innocent Christian parishioners were celebrating the birth of Christ during a Nativity service.
Extremist are said to have targeted women and children in the brutal attack who make up the majority of victims, in an attack that was designed to create fear, panic and anxiety amongst the Christian community during one of their most important dates in their calendar.
The attack occured at 'Bethel Memorial Methodist Church' Zarghoon Road, Balochistan where 400 Christians were celebrating the birth of Jesus watching a nativity play. The attack was undertaken by two Islamists between the ages of 15 and 20 years, armed with guns and suicide vests. Security forces managed to shoot dead one of the Islamists at the gate of the church, however, the other Islamist managed to detonate his explosive device inside the church courtyard but outside the building, chanting the customary praise to Allah as he decimated screaming victims, mainly women and children.
A victim spoke to our local officer Pastor , she said: "I heard loud gunfire and people screaming, some of them fell dead after being shot through the walls others were riven in blood, then a loud explosion occurred, there was dust everywhere people were rushing to help those injured. It was terrifying.
"It was so surreal we could not see who was shooting at us we could only hear it and see the pain on peoples faces and blood everywhere. I simply froze and prayed that I would get out alive and God chose to protect me."
A security forces operation is underway to track down those linked to this terrorist attack.
A large contingent of police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel have surrounded the attack site and are conducting a search operation. A bomb disposal team is on standby as it is believed that others were involved in this Islamist activity.
An emergency has been declared in the city’s hospitals and thus far all the victims have been sent to Civil Lines Hospital and Combined Military Hospital both in Quetta. Both hospitals are seeking emergency blood donors.
Only a few weeks ago a seven-year-old child was killed when a bomb was detonated at a Christian community in Quetta.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "We have written several requests to the UK Pakistan High Commission calling for better protection for Christians at Christmas time, moreover we even went as far as suggesting Quetta would be the primary target zone due to recent terrorist patterns.
"Thus far our requests have been ignored. Several churches have complained that no additional security measure have been put in place to protect them and the High Commission has failed to even acknowledge our communication by email or a written response.
"Arguably, the quick response of the security forces at the church reduced the impact of this attack, but that has done nothing to ease the anxiety that Christians are feeling. Christians clearly need more protection as two attacks on churches in two months is becoming too common an incident.
"Christians in Pakistan are buoyed by the condemnation of the Islamists by senior figures in the Government of Pakistan, but say it does little good. They desire a more robust investigative process to stop the terrorist before the attack or stronger security presence around churches especially around celebrations like Christmas, were radicalized Muslims are frenzied by the more overt Christian display of their faith.
"Christians across Pakistan are in sheer terror, but still they will pack their churches over Christmas. Martyrdom and Christianity on Pakistan go hand in hand, but never has nation been more intolerant till now despite the millions invested into Pakistan by the UK and reciprocal billions from America."
"While people in the west eat mince pies and turkey, Christians in Pakistan will be praying for an extra day of their earthly lives and for the protection of their children."