The toll in the blasts outside two churches in Lahore would have been much higher if the security personnel posted outside had not prevented the two Taliban suicide bombers from reaching the worshippers inside, police officers and residents said. Fourteen people were killed and 78 wounded in the blasts outside the two packed churches during the Sunday Mass. “When the guards stopped them from entering the churches, they blew themselves up (at the gates),” Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra, a Christian leader of the locality, said. “Today the whole Christian community in Pakistan is devastated and is begging the government to provide it security,” Sahotra said. “I was sitting at a shop near the church when a blast jolted the area. I rushed towards the spot and saw a man trying the enter the church scuffle with a security guard. After failing, he blew himself up,” an eyewitness, Amir Masih, said.
Shaheen Bibi’s 10-year-old son Abhishek was among those killed. “My son had gone to the church to pray for a good result in his examinations,” Bibi said as she cried and struck her head against the chest of a relative. “He wanted me to sew him some new clothes if he passed his examinations.” Punjab government spokesman Zaeem Qadri said that five policemen had been deployed outside the two churches.
“Two of them lost their lives while the other three are in a critical condition. Their sacrifice has saved the lives of a number of people,” Qadri said. Sarfraz Emanuel, a local resident, said that local residents later took two “suspects” into custody and “executed” them. “The suspects confessed that they were the accomplices of the suicide bombers and had come here to monitor the operation,” Emanuel said.
Police present there did not stop the mob, a senior officer admitted. “We did not stop the enraged mob as there could have been a clash between the police and the mob,” DIG Lahore Haider Ashraf said. “It was the police and local security that deterred the suicide bombers from entering the churches otherwise the loss would have been colossal,” Ashraf added. The Lahore police have registered two separate cases — one against the attack on the two churches and the other against the people involved in killing of the two ‘suspects’ who were lynched and burnt alive. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has announced Rs 5,00,000 compensation for those killed in the attack and Rs 75,000 for the injured.
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