Two Americans among five people killed in grenade attack on Pakistan church - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Two Americans among five people killed in grenade attack on Pakistan church

Updated:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Two attackers hurled grenades into a Protestant church filled with Sunday worshippers, killing five people _ including two Americans _ and wounding about 40, police and U.S. officials said.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the American deaths but did not release the victims' identities. The nationalities of the other three killed were unavailable.

Police said 10 Americans were among the 40 injured, along with 12 Pakistanis, five Iranians, one Iraqi, one Ethiopian, one German and a Sri Lankan diplomat, police said.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf condemned the attack as a ``ghastly act of terrorism.''

After the attack, dozens of police and soldiers surrounded the Protestant International Church located in a heavily guarded diplomatic enclave about a half-mile from the U.S. Embassy. Ambulances rushed to the scene and rescuers scrambled to help the injured.

Senior Police Official Nasir Khan Durrani said five people were killed. Four bodies _ three of them female _ were brought to the Polyclinic Hospital. Witnesses said two of the dead were teen-age girls.

It was the second attack against Christians in Pakistan since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, which prompted Pakistan to abandon support for the Afghan Taliban and instead back the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism.

Witnesses said the attackers entered the back of the church during the sermon and began hurling grenades at the congregation of about 70.

Three of the grenades exploded and the attackers eluded security guards at the scene, police said.

``I saw two men come into the back of the church into the main sanctuary and threw what looked like hand grenades,'' said Cindy Jess, an American who did not give her hometown.

Mark Robinson of Los Angeles, who was being treated at the clinic for a minor leg injury, said, ``There was total pandemonium.''

Elisabeth Mundhenk, 54, of Hamburg, Germany, said she took refuge under a piano when the first explosion rocked the church but still suffered shrapnel wounds in the leg.

``There was blood, blood, blood,'' she said while awaiting treatment at the hospital. ``It was horrific. There was a horrible smell and we could barely breathe.''

Although no group claimed responsibility, suspicion fell on Islamic militants angered by Musharraf's crackdown on Islamic extremism begun in January.

``It's a highly deplorable attempt to spoil our relations with foreign countries. Choosing this place is meant to embarrass the government,'' Pakistani Law Minister Khalid Ranjha said.

Sectarian violence has been increasing in Pakistan, but most attacks have targeted Pakistan's Shiite Muslim minority. Extremists from the majority Sunni Muslim community have been blamed.

Despite the increase in sectarian violence, Ranjha said officials believed the church was well-protected. Such attacks in the Pakistani capital, where security is higher than elsewhere in the country, are relatively infrequent.

``The attack shows that those who carried it out were committed people,'' Ranjha said.

The last major violent incident directed at Christians occurred Oct. 28 when gunmen entered a church in the Punjab province town of Behawalpur and killed 15 worshippers and a Muslim guard.

Religious tension had been expected to rise with the start this weekend of the Islamic month of Moharram, marking the beginning of the Muslim year.

In January, Musharraf banned five Islamic extremist groups and announced measures extending control over religious schools considered a breeding ground for terrorism.

More than 2,000 people were arrested, but many were released.
Powered by Frankly
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 KOTV. Oklahoma Traveler™ is a registered trademark of Griffin Communications. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.