On Sunday, September 22, 2013, a suicide attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 78 people on Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in Pakistan in years.
The attack occurred as worshipers left All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, after a service on Sunday morning. Up to 600 people had attended and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd. “As soon as the service finished and the food was being distributed, all of a sudden we heard one explosion, followed by another,” said a witness.
The 78 people killed, included 34 women and 7 children. Pakistani officials were quoted saying, “Such an attack on women and children is against humanity.” More than 100 people were wounded including 37 children.
Police officials said the two suicide bombers had carried out the attack and each bomber carried six kilograms of explosives.
Earlier this year in Pakistan, a Muslim mob swarmed through a Christian neighborhood and burned 2 churches and more than 100 homes. Christians also frequently find themselves accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. The attacks are mostly orchestrated by Sunni extremist militant groups, although some have also been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Copts whose church was one of dozens destroyed by Muslim Brotherhood supporters have returned to the charred house of worship, with their pastor vowing the violence suffered by his flock will make them “better Christians.”
“This will learn us to be better Christians,” said Pastor Sameh Ibrahim of a torched congregation in Minya, the capital of Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt, where some 14 churches were reportedly attacked in recent days.
Across Egypt, at least 60 churches have been targeted, along with Christian schools, homes,businesses and even an orphanage, according to conservative estimates. In the areas of Minya, Beni Suef, Fayoum and Assiut, Christian homes and businesses have received leaflets warning them to leave or face reprisals by Islamists, Christians said.
“It has made it very difficult, if not impossible, for Christians to worship,” Dobbs also said. “There is also no access for food and proper safety.”
Many families were also forcibly split from their loved ones as the pressure of persecution has increased due to the growth of Islam in the region.
Since the South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, Christians and churches in Sudan have faced increasing aggression. Church leaders have been threatened, arrested and abducted, and many Christian buildings and house of worship destroyed. In April 2012, a church and Bible school also in Khartoum was burned to the ground by an Islamist mob, and in June another church there was bulldozed by local authorities.