Peshawar church attack: Two girls died thirsty, recalls priest

Published: September 24, 2013
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A daughter inquires the health of her father wounded during the attack in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

A daughter inquires the health of her father wounded during the attack in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: 

There were whispers of another blast near Gora Qabristan around noon, where Christians were protesting. Panic ensued and all those present were asked to leave the premises.

However, journalists at the site assured people there had been no blast, trying to pacify them.

The scores of protesters stopped running. People felt a calming, yet chilling, relief.

“No one knows how long this fear will haunt us,” said Pastor Zia Pervez, adding that they will reopen the church after the three-day mourning period.

But, he is not so sure about the service.

In his office, Pervez recalled what he heard and saw at the time of the blast. It was around 11:15 am on Sunday when he concluded the service at church.

Pervez left the nave and went to his office, adjacent to northern transept of the church. He had just taken off his gown when he heard the two blasts in close succession, shaking the whole structure to its foundation.

When he made his way to the courtyard, he saw bodies everywhere and heard anguished cries of the injured.

He remembers two injured girls, who died before someone could fetch water for them. It took about 10 minutes for the rescue staff to arrive that moved the victims to the Lady Reading Hospital.

“The coffins started to arrive at around 4:00 pm and continued till 10:00 pm,” he said. “There seemed no end to it.”

Barbed wire and bloodstains

The All Saints’ Church, Peshawar, is located at the junction of Mohammad Ali Johar Road and Koochi Bazaar, inside Kohati Gate. Roads leading to the church have been closed with barbed wire, where a heavy contingent of police stands guard.

In Koochi Bazaar, the predominantly Muslim tailors’ union put up a banner illustrating its sympathy with the grieving Christians of the neighbourhood. “We strongly condemn this shameful act,” read a sign raised by the Sikh community.

Inside, a large number of people were sitting under a tent in the courtyard. Patches of dried blood still dotted the redbrick courtyard, the walls pockmarked with shrapnel. The carpet was littered with glass, debris and stains of blood. Women continued to weep in the nave, while offering prayers for the slain.

Five of the 83 killed were Anwar Ghauri’s relatives. He arrived in Peshawar from Lahore on Monday after he received the news of his relatives’ death.

He went inside the church and felt silent after what he witnessed. “Religion does not allow this kind of bloodshed,” he murmured.

Griffin Masih, a resident of Phandu Road, was ‘luckier’. His family members left the church a little before the blasts. Most of the poor had stayed behind for food, which was being distributed outside the church after Mass, he explained.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2013. 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • umar chohan
    Sep 24, 2013 - 10:56AM

    Terrorists have killed thousands of muslim pakistanis but the ‘patriotic’ pakistani christians did not bother to protest. Why all the pretentious show of being pakistani citizens and demand of responsibility from the same pakistani society now?

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  • Saleem
    Sep 24, 2013 - 12:45PM

    @umar chohan:
    What are you talking about? Shame on you. This is a community already living in fear and now this madness … if you can’t condole with your Pakistani brethren regardless of the religion, at least be quiet.

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  • goggi (Lahore)
    Sep 24, 2013 - 2:16PM

    Silence is the language of God!

    When somebody injures us bitterly, the most effective answer in that hard moment is, the protest of our SAINT-ly silence!

    Moreover what sense has it, to demonstrate in graveyards!

    Recommend

  • Lol
    Sep 24, 2013 - 6:40PM

    @umar chohan:
    It’s not the war of christians . It is created by muslims , speciafically Sunnis and they have to fight . Why should we suffer ?

    Recommend

  • Canadian
    Sep 24, 2013 - 9:17PM

    @Umar Chohan:

    Christians have always protested against the violence towards Muslims, be it in Pakistan or any other Muslim country. It was Christians in the West who came out to support your Muslim fellows in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.

    You are in Pakistan because of a Christian vote by Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha, Mr. Gibbons, better read your history. Your own Muslims brothers (read TTP / Al-Qaeda) attack your mosques, imambargahs and kill the innocents there too. But you have the same sickening ideology that Muslims are targeted.

    It is not about Christians, Muslims, Hindu or Sikhs or any other community in Pakistan, it is about Pakistanis being killed at the hands of barbarians who claim to be your Muslim brothers and you have proved you belong to them.

    Any sensible Muslim will never think like this and be concerned about every citizen be it a Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Parsi or person belonging to any religion.

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  • Kamran
    Sep 24, 2013 - 11:16PM

    @umar chohan: They live in constant fear of persecution. You know why? Because people like you are the majority in Pakistan.

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  • also canadian
    Sep 24, 2013 - 11:41PM

    @ canadian

    While i completely agree with your other point i strongly agree with “. It was Christians in the West who came out to support your Muslim fellows in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.”
    citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan are not better off you should read current affairs

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  • Pakistani
    Sep 25, 2013 - 12:13AM

    @umar chohan:
    First give them some rights and treat them like Jinnah wanted to treat them then you will be in position to ask this.

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  • Aqsa
    Sep 25, 2013 - 1:16AM

    @Umar Chohan : Biased and divisive humans like you put us all to shame. A community lost 80+ members in a barbaric blast and this is what you have to say about it. ‘Why are you protesting now when you didn’t protest on us muslims’?. We are the reason this country is in chaos and not the Christians.

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  • Saleem
    Sep 25, 2013 - 4:15AM

    @goggi (Lahore):
    “Moreover what sense has it, to demonstrate in graveyards!”
    May be it doesn’t make sense to you … so be it. Let others do what makes sense to them. Nobody needs to question others about their ways of protesting etc. In short, if people start minding their own business, we will be a much better society.

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