Two suicide bombers struck the All Saints Church following a service in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, killing more than 70 people and wounding more than 120, according to the AP and other news outlets. The victims are believed to include many children.
The church’s bishop, Rev. Humphrey S. Peters, issued a statement in which he condemned the violence and expressed his condolences to those affected by the attack, which officials say is one of the deadliest ever conducted against Pakistan’s Christian minority.
“A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing,” the AP reports, “saying it would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in the country’s remote tribal region.”
The All Saints church website describes the violence, saying, “As the Sunday Service ended and the people came out of the Church, two suicide bombers entered the church compound from the main gate and blew themselves up in the midst of the people.”
The site added, “According to those we have spoken to, among the dead were a number of Sunday School children and Choir members of the Church who were all in the Church compound at the moment of the blasts.”
Dating from the 1880s, All Saints Church is famed for its architecture that echoes elements of a Saracenic Muslim mosque. Sunday’s deadly attack sparked protests in other Pakistani cities, with demonstrators calling for violence against Christians to cease.
The attack comes one day after Pakistan released a prisoner who was a high-ranking member of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where officials say he could play a pivotal role in the peace process. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was formerly the Taliban’s second-in-command.
“The Afghan government welcomes Pakistan’s decision to release Mullah Baradar,” said Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi, according to Reuters. “This release has occurred because of the Afghan government’s consistent pressure requesting that Mullah Baradar be set free,”