Five killed in attack on church

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The Independent Online

Five people were killed and 45 wounded today after grenades were thrown into a packed Christian church in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad. Many of the worshippers were believed to be foreigners and witnesses said two of the dead were teenage girls.

Police and soldiers surrounded the Protestant International Church, located in a heavily guarded diplomatic compound about half a mile from the US Embassy.

The attack took place amid rising sectarian tension in Pakistan, whose population of 147 million is overwhelmingly Muslim. Most of the attacks have been between rival Islamic sects.

There were conflicting reports among witnesses about the number of attackers. Witnesses said one or two men entered the back of the church near the end of the service and hurled grenades at the congregation, numbering about 70.

The Sunday attack was the last major violent incident directed at Christians since 28 October when gunmen killed 15 worshippers and a Muslim guard at a church in the Punjab province town of Behawalpur.

Religious tension had been expected to rise with the start this weekend of the Islamic month of Moharram, which marks the start of the Muslim year.