ISLAMABAD – The Islamic State terror organization claimed on Sunday responsibility for the suicide bomb and gun attack on a Methodist church in Quetta, western Pakistan, which killed at least nine people and wounded another 30.
In a statement published via the messaging service Telegram, IS said two of its members launched the attack on the Bethel Memorial Church in Imdad Square in Quetta, where around 400 people were present.
IS added that one of them detonated an explosive belt he was wearing, while the second was killed in a shootout with Pakistani security forces.
The attack started at 12:10 pm when a suicide attacker detonated the explosives he was carrying at the church’s entrance, police spokesperson Muhammed Ramzan said.
Another of the attackers, who failed to detonate his explosives-laden vest, was killed in a shootout with the police inside the church.
The police spokesperson stated that there were believed to be two other assailants who fled the scene.
“The police are hunting for those who ran away,” Ramzan said.
According to the police spokesperson, among the nine killed are two women and five men, in addition to the two attackers, while 28 people have been injured, including the police official guarding the church.
However, Hidayat Ullah, a supervisor at the Civil Hospital Quetta, told EFE that 30 people had been wounded, including women and children.
The government of Balochistan Province declared an emergency in Quetta’s public hospitals when the attack started and asked all medical staff to be ready to receive the injured, according to an official statement.
Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, is located in one of the most conflict-ridden areas of Pakistan, with the presence of armed separatist groups, Taliban factions and Islamist groups.
There have been frequent attacks on religious minorities in Balochistan, including the most recent incident in October, in which at least 18 people were killed and 25 injured in a suicide attack on a Sufi shrine.
Pakistan is a Sunni Muslim-majority country, with 4 million Christians out of a total population of around 200 million residents.