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Pak steps up security after church attack ahead of Christmas

http://www.ptinews.com/news/9330982_Pak-steps-up-security-after-church-attack-ahead-of-Christmas.html



Islamabad, Dec 18 (PTI) Pakistan today beefed up security around hundreds of religious places of minorities, including Hindu temples, a day after ISIS suicide bombers struck a church during a mass in the restive southwestern city of Quetta, killing nine people and injuring 44 others.

Authorities have instructed law enforcement agencies to tighten security arrangements in and around the worship places and other places of religious significance for the non-Muslims against any possible threat.

"Our resolve remains strong and unflinching against terrorists. Their (cowardly) attacks cannot weaken us," Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said today as he announced Rs 10 lakh in compensation each for the families of the dead, and Rs 5 lakh for each injured in the attack.

Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal also asked for increasing security for mosques, shrines, Imambargahs etc.

"Those who are adamant to destroy peace in the country are ulcerous and the entire nation is united against their nefarious designs," Siyal was quoted as saying by Dawn.

Two ISIS suicide bombers attacked a packed church during a Sunday service in Balochistan capital, killing nine people and injuring 44 others in a targeted assault on the minority Christian community ahead of Christmas in the Muslim nation.

According to the paper, officials said a project costing Rs 400 million was being launched to make temples, churches and other places of worship safe across the Sindh province.

"Police guards and other law enforcement agencies have been posted with the limited manpower and strength in the province. It requires more funds and manpower to raise the bar," said a senior official in the Sindh home ministry.

They added that most of the investment would be made towards purchasing surveillance cameras which would be installed strategically in and outside more than 1,200 places of worship -- temples, churches and gurudwaras -- across Sindh, in the southeast of the country.

The Sindh Police have prepared a report and sent it to the home ministry saying that a total of 1,253 worship places belonging to the religious minorities had been documented in Sindh, which included 703 Hindu temples and 523 churches.

Besides, 21 such places belonged to Ahmadi community and the remaining six are Sikh gurdwaras, the report said, adding a total of 2,310 policemen have been deputed to guard all those places.

Christians make up an estimated 1.6 per cent of Pakistan's 200 million people.

The assault on Sunday raised concerns about the security of religious minorities, especially Christians, in a country with a dismal record when it comes to the treatment and protection of religious minorities, analysts say.

Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have strongly condemned the attack.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the attack, calling it "an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations/create religious cleavages." 

Pakistani officials have repeatedly denied that ISIS had an organised presence in the country, even though the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for several other attacks in Balochistan in recent years

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