9 dead in attack on church in Pakistan, IS claims responsibility

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Islamabad, Dec 17 (IANS) At least nine people have been killed, including two of the attackers, and another 30 injured after four armed insurgents attacked a Methodist church on Sunday in Quetta in Pakistan. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack on the Bethel Memorial church on Imdad square, where around 400 people were present, started at 12.10 p.m. when a suicide attacker detonated the explosives he was carrying at the church’s entrance, police spokesperson Muhammed Ramzan said.

Another of the attackers, who failed to detonate his explosives-laden vest, was killed in a shootout with the police inside the church while the remaining two assailants fled the scene, reports Efe news.

“The police are hunting for those who ran away,” a police officer added.

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According to the police spokesperson, among the nine killed were two women and five men, in addition to the two attackers. Another 28 people have been injured, including a police officer guarding the church.

However, Hidayat Ullah, a supervisor at the Civil Hospital Quetta, told EFE that 30 people had been wounded, including women and children.

The Islamic State terror organisation on Sunday claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb and gun attack.

In a statement published via the messaging service Telegram, IS said two of its members launched the attack on the Bethel Memorial Church in Imdad Square in Quetta, where around 400 people were present, Efe news agency reported.

IS added that one of them detonated an explosive belt he was wearing, while the second was killed in a shootout with Pakistani security forces.

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The government of Balochistan declared an emergency in public hospitals of Quetta when the attack started and asked all medical staff to be ready to receive the injured, according to an official statement.

Quetta, capital of Balochistan, is located in one of the most conflict-ridden areas of Pakistan, with the presence of armed separatist groups, Taliban factions and Islamist groups.

There have been frequent attacks on religious minorities in Balochistan, including the last incident in October, in which 18 people were killed and 25 injured in a suicide attack on a Sufi shrine.

Pakistan is a Sunni-Muslim majority country, with four million Christians in a total population of around 200 million residents.



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