At Least 13 Dead in Pakistan Church Massacre
Armed assailants on motorcycles attacked worshippers at a church at Bahawalpur in eastern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 13 people, police said.
"Around nine this morning, six people on two motorcycles stormed into the church and sprayed bullets indiscriminately on people inside the church," police officer Mohammad Khalid told AFP.
"So far we have received confirmation that 13 people have been killed and several injured."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack or evidence that it was linked to growing militancy among Pakistan's Islamic radicals over US attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.
Sister Anna Bakhshi, the principal of the Bahawalpur convent school, told AFP that the church was owned by the local Roman Catholic community but was being shared by a protestant group.
It was at the end of a protestant service that the attack took place.
Sister Anna said church leaders had asked the police for armed guards in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
But only one or two were ever deployed at the church and the officer on duty on Sunday was sleeping at the time of the attack, she said. The attackers killed him first. The dead also included a protestant pastor, Emmanuel Mamih, according to sister Anna.
She said she believed the killers had intended to attack a Catholic service, which would have been attended by a larger number of people, but were probably not aware of a change in the schedule made only last week -- Pakistan, (AFP)
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