Saturday, August 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

5 killed in hate attack

Shattered glass and other debris are littered on the floor of the church
Shattered glass and other debris are littered on the floor of the church after the grenade attack on Friday.
— AP/PTI photo

Paramedics treat a woman injured in a grenade attack in a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila, 40 km northwest of Islamabad, on Friday.
Paramedics treat a woman injured in the attack in a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila on Friday. — AP/PTI photo

Women wail over the death of their relatives killed in the attack.
— Reuters photo

Islamabad, August 9
Five persons, including a suicide attacker, were killed and 23 injured when suspected Islamic militants carried out a grenade attack at a Christian missionary hospital in Taxila near here today.

The police quoting eyewitnesses said three armed men forced their way into the Church compound and hurled two to three grenades killing four Pakistani nurses working at the hospital.

One of the attackers apparently with explosives strapped to his body blew himself up, while the other two escaped, the daily News reported on its website.

The condition of two of the injured was stated to be critical, it said quoting eye witnesses and Hospital officials.

“The nurses were coming out of the chapel when someone threw explosives,” said Mr Clement Bakshi, an accounts officer.

According to Dr Ashk Nawaz, Managing Director of the Taxila hospital, one of the three attackers stood guard near hospital while two armed militants entered the Church and lobbed the grenades. Two grenades exploded, while one failed.

The office manager of the hospital said besides hurling the grenades, the assailants also fired at security guards.

The attack, the second against Christian or western interests this week, was sharply condemned by the government, which described it as a “dastardly act” aimed at driving a wedge between the Muslims and Christians in the country.

Information Minister Nissar Memon said it was an attempt by the “enemies” of Pakistan to create unrest and instability in the country.

The attack was “a sinister attempt to drive a wedge between the Muslims and Christian communities of Pakistan. It is bound to end in a fiasco as the people are mature enough to see through the conspiracy”, he said in a statement.

Stating that the attack would not weaken the resolve of his government to fight and eradicate terrorism in all forms and manifestations, he said the government would protect all citizens and foreigners irrespective of caste, creed and religion.

“No religion allows killing of innocent people, specially women engaged in humanitarian service”, he said appealing for unity among the people to foil the “nefarious” designs of the “terrorists”.

Condemning the attack, Chairman of the All Pakistan Minority Alliance, Mr Shahbaz Bhatti, accused the government of failing to provide adequate security to minority institutions.

“These incidents are a reaction of pro-Taliban and Al-Qaida forces against the Christian community,” Mr Bhatti told reporters in the hospital, adding that every one was saddened and angry” at the incident.

This was the third such attack against Christians in Pakistan this year. Besides the attack on a Christian school at Murree in which six persons were killed on Monday this week, militants had exploded grenades at a church in the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad on March 17.

Last year 18 persons were killed when armed men opened fire on Christian worshippers in a church in Bhawalpur city of Punjab province. PTI

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