CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Pakistani Taliban Attacks Christian Neighborhood and Courthouse, Leaving 13 Dead

Two militant attacks took place in Northwestern Pakistan on Friday that targeted a Christian neighborhood and a district court, leaving at least 13 people killed and 54 wounded.

The attack on the Christian neighborhood near Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, took place early in the morning when the four would-be suicide bombers entered the neighborhood armed with ammunition. Security officers responded to the situation, leading to an exchange of gunfire. The four attackers and one civilian were killed. One security guard along with three other security personnel were wounded, according to the Washington Post.

Later that same day, only hours after the attack on the Christian neighborhood, a suicide attack occurred at the district court in Mardan whereby the suicide bomber threw a grenade at the entrance of the court. He went on the detonate his explosives after he was prevented from entering the court gates, Senior Police Superintendent Shafiullah Khan said according to CNN. Among the 12 killed and 54 wounded are civilians, lawyers, and policemen. Ijaz Ahmed Khan, a local policemen, said the attack was targeted toward a group of lawyers at the bar room, according to the New York Times.

An offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for both attacks. The splinter group has claimed responsibility for numerous similar attacks in past months, including the March bombing that took place in a park on Easter, targeting Christians and the hospital bombing in Quetta last month which killed 70 people, including lawyers and journalists.

According to a 2016 information report from an official at the British High Commission (BHC) Islamabad, Muslims make up about 96.4 percent of the religious population. Christians are the minority, making up only 1.5 percent of the population. Open Doors USA, a Christian persecution watchdog, ranks Pakistan as 6th on its World Watch List, a tool used to measure the degree of persecution across the globe.

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