Peshawar church blasts: Death toll spirals to 83 amid grief filled protests

Published: September 24, 2013
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Members of civil society light lamps during a peace vigil in Lahore. PHOTO: REUTERS

Members of civil society light lamps during a peace vigil in Lahore. PHOTO: REUTERS

PESHAWAR: As the death toll from the Peshawar church blasts mounted on Monday there was a visible escalation in the intensity of protests — with the enormity of the tragedy sinking in more deeply into the national pysche.

Some 24 hours after the blasts, enraged Christians took to the streets in several parts of the country — some protested peacefully, while others resorted to violence — as the number of those killed in the twin blasts climbed to 83.

The most violent protest was reported from Karachi where mobs — of Christians and Muslims — clashed with each other for several hours in the Khulfa-e-Rashideen Colony, Korangi area. There were incidents of arson, in which one house was gutted while another was partially burnt. Aerial firing was also reported and one man was killed by a stray bullet.

After five hours of rioting, Rangers and police personnel finally took around two dozen suspects into custody.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, more than 600 protesters blocked a major city highway for several hours during the Monday morning rush hour, causing long tailbacks.

In Peshawar itself, demonstrators took to the streets, smashing windows at the Lady Reading Hospital, where many of the victims were still being treated.

New K-P IGP appointed

In a key reshuffle, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa IGP Ahsan Ghani was replaced by Nasir Khan Durrani, senior government officials informed The Express Tribune. “The decision was taken at the highest level,” said one official. The appointment of the IGP is at the prime minister’s discretion.

Secretary Establishment Division Shahid Rashid also confirmed the appointment, “We issued the notification on Monday.”

Durrani was working as Punjab Counter Terrorism Department Additional Inspector General Police. Officials claimed that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar recommended his name after K-P CM Khattak sought Durrani, a reputed police officer.

The relations between now former IGP Ghani and CM Khattak had been reportedly strenuous. However, Shiraz Paracha, CM Khattak’s spokesperson, denied Ghani’s removal had anything to do with the twin blasts.

Meanwhile, an investigation team led by SSP Investigation Masoodur Rehman Khalil began the probe on Monday. The team visited the church, met with the injured and talked to the people of the Kohati area to record statements. The police recovered two pistols from the bomb site, a police official told The Express Tribune. 

Contrary to initial information, the police found no evidence of the suicide bombers wearing police uniforms. “These are baseless rumours. According to our investigation, they were in plain clothes,” he said. The heads of both the bombers were found and it would help the police in preparing sketches of the suicide bombers, he added.

Hospital rounds

Political leaders from across the country visited the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Peshawar, to express their solidarity with the families and inquire about those injured in the blasts. Sindh CM Qaim travelled to Peshawar from Karachi. He announced Rs500,000 for families of the dead and Rs100,000 for the wounded.

Separately, National Assembly’s Leader of the Opposition Khurshid Shah also visited the hospital where he called for collective efforts to eradicate terrorism. “The Peshawar church attacks are an attempt to sabotage talks with the Taliban.”

Speaking to journalists at the hospital, former interior minister and PPP senior leader Rehman Malik said he equally shared the grief and sorrow of the bereaved families. He said the victims’ families should not consider themselves alone in this hour. Nurses belonging to the Christian community complained to the former minister that the victims were not being treated properly.

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

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Saleem
    Sep 24, 2013 - 3:59AM

    Would Pakistani ulema declare that anyone killing innocent people, Muslim or non-Muslim, are not Muslim any more and thus their Janaza as a Muslim is not permissible?

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  • Sep 24, 2013 - 5:16AM

    The heinous attack on peaceful churchgoers in Peshawar took 81 innocent lives, including 34 women and 7 children. Additionally 17 of the 130 injured worshipers are reported to be in critical condition. A Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) affiliate has shamelessly accepted responsibility for this despicable brutality. This twin suicide bombing inside the church not only shows the audacity of the perpetrators, it also shows the government’s failure to check this growing and destructive trend. The attacks on the military’s GHQ, Naval and Air Bases, recent killing of a two star general with an IED, and the several thousand deaths have either failed to highlight the magnitude of the monster or its realization has intimidated the Pakistani government. This doctrine of mass destruction continues to grow unchecked. Pakistan must take corrective action to stop terrorism under the guise of Islam.
    More appalling is the fact that no “religious” leader in Pakistan has had the moral courage to identify and condemn these self-confessed barbarians. Despite the TTP claiming responsibility for repeated attacks on Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, etc., the Pakistani political leadership has chosen to embolden the terrorists by remaining silent, not identifying the criminals nor the root causes of this brutal mindset. The irony is that the root causes were identified in 1953 by the Munir Commission Report which cautioned the government that the misuse of religion for political goals was an explosive blend; it identified the infamous Objectives Resolution, as the cause of the intellectual and legislative paralysis which prohibited legislators from enacting effective legislation to deal with terrorism in the name of Islam. Additionally, General Zia ul Haq’s notorious Islamization ordinances – Hadood, Blasphemy and Apostasy – which were later confirmed by the parliament, complement the flawed Objectives Resolution; together they form the root causes behind the senseless atrocities that the government and the society is unable or unwilling to control.
    Pakistan must acts as a responsible country and controls the genie of radicalism that it unleashed by appeasing the radicals. Repealing the referenced flawed legislations, followed by an educational program to deflate the myths of Islamic State, Sharia, and Jihad is the only way to free the world of the affliction of radicalism and terrorism.

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  • Usman
    Sep 24, 2013 - 7:04AM

    This reminds me of what happened to Ahmadies on 28 May 2010.

    Tell you what – I have completely lost hope in this country – I shed tears, I lost ppl I knew but Im glad to tell you that I m outta this place.

    We have this bad habit of blaming everything on the government. No body dares looks at his own self – one way or the other – you all are responsible for what has happened to Pakistan. All of you!

    I m sorry to say all this, but we all have become so self-centered and aggressive over the last few years.. don’t be so indifferent when it comes down to one’s life.

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  • Asif Ali
    Sep 24, 2013 - 7:47AM

    I absolutely agree with Mr. Humayun comments. Pakistan and its democratic leaders, rather than sitting silent, must act responsibly and take corrective measures under the guidance of Islam. Once again, it is the people who are corrupt AND not the religion. My heartfelt condolences for the victims of this heinous crime.

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  • Ali
    Sep 24, 2013 - 9:25AM

    Talibans you are not Muslims. No matter what the killing of innocent people is not acceptable in Islam!

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  • Mirza Aslam Beg
    Sep 24, 2013 - 9:31AM

    Nairobi hostages were freed immediately by the Army. Why can’t our army flush out the terrorists who are no match for the world-class Pakistan Army – much less in number and they are not properly trained. The internal security threat appears to be greater than external threat and the silence of Army leadership is enigmatic.

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