Peshawar: Over 60 people have died in Peshawar after two suicide bombers on Sunday morning blew themselves up near a church in the city, injuring more than 200.
Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat has confirmed that two bombers exploded themselves up in the vicinity of the church, named "Pakistan Church", during Sunday prayers.
An estimated 12 kg of explosives were used by the bombers, Shafqat said. The explosive materials were made of ball bearings which proved fatal by killing the maximum people, he said. He said that they have taken in custody the heads of both the bombers and sketches would be prepared soon.
The blasts occurred when people were coming out of the church after offering Sunday service, according to an eyewitness. There were around 500-600 people inside the church at the time of explosions, the report said. Eye witnesses said the bombers were wearing police uniforms.
The injured were shifted to the nearby Lady Reading Hospital, where the condition of 13 people was stated to be critical. The blasts occurred in one of the oldest churches of Peshawar. The church was built in 1883 and is situated in a very congested locality which is always jampacked with people, mostly women, as the area is the hub of markets and shopping centres.
The Christian community lives in the vicinity and visited the church for Sunday service in large numbers. The community staged a protest against the blasts and burnt tyres.
The police and security forces cordoned off the entire area and started a search operation. Emergency was declared in the city's main hospitals.
A policeman, four women and four children were among those killed.
Meanwhile, Reverend of the Cathedral Ijaz Gill, who was also injured in the blast, told APP that the church building has been damaged by the blasts.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blasts in Peshawar and expressed his deep sorrow and shock over the loss of precious human lives, the APP reported. Sharif said terrorists have no religion and targeting innocent people was against the teachings of Islam and all religions. He expressed solidarity with the Christian community, sympathised with the bereaved families and prayed for the early recovery of those injured in the blasts.
President Mamnoon Hussain also expressed deep sorrow and grief over the killings and said the perpetrators of such a heinous crime would not be spared.
(With additional information from IANS)