A suicide bomb attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 52 people Sunday, officials said, in one of the worst assaults on the country’s Christian minority in years.
The bombing in Peshawar, which wounded another 100, underlines the threat posed by Islamic extremists as the government seeks a peace deal with domestic Taliban militants.
It occurred as hundreds of worshippers were coming out of the church in the city’s Kohati Gate district after services to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn, said a top government administrator, Sahibzada Anees.
It was not immediately clear whether one or two suicide bombers carried out the attack.
Witnesses said they heard two blasts, the second more powerful than the first. One police officer, Zahir Shah, said he believed both blasts were caused by suicide bombers.
“There were blasts and there was hell for all of us,” said Nazir John, who was at the church. “When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around.”