Church leaders in Pakistan have condemned a recent attack by Taliban militants on a mosque in Peshawar. The militants opened fire on worshipers at a mosque located on an air force base in Peshawar on September 18, leaving 19 dead and many others wounded. Attacks by Taliban militants on places of worship are nothing new Peshawar. On September 22, 2013, suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar, killing over 100 Christians and wounding another 150.
9/18/2015 Pakistan (UCANews) – Catholic Church leaders in Peshawar condemned an attack by Taliban militants on a mosque that left 19 worshipers dead.
Gunmen opened fire Sept. 18 inside the mosque, located on a Pakistani air force base in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial capital.
“We condemn [the attack] and pray for restoration of peace in the country,” said Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, whose diocese covers Peshawar.
Father John William, parish priest of St. John Vianney Church in Peshawar also condemned the attack.
“The church expresses solidarity with the families of victims and prays for the speedy recovery of those injured,” he told ucanews.com.
Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said on Twitter that gunmen entered the air force camp and split into two groups.
“A group of terrorists rushed to [the] mosque and martyred 16 people offering prayers,” the army’s chief spokesman said.
Thirteen attackers were killed by troops after an exchange of fire. Also killed in the morning attack was a captain fighting the attackers and two junior army technicians.
“[The] terrorists came in constabulary uniform,” Bajwa said.
Father William said such an attack was expected in retaliation to an ongoing military offensive in North Waziristan where the Pakistan Air Force is attacking militant hideouts. “It is unfortunate [that the] Taliban appear to be more organized than our law enforcement agencies and they have managed to target such a sensitive place,” he said.
He said security must also be beefed up at mosques, churches and other worship places, which have been under constant threat from militants.
Peshawar has frequently been targeted by militants. The army has been their primary targets recently but Christians, Hindus and Muslims have also been attacked and their places of worship are subjected to criminal acts of violence.
In March this year, Taliban bombers blew themselves up at two Catholic churches in Lahore, killing at least 15 people.
A month later, nearly 50 members of the minority Ismaili community were killed in an armed ambush on their bus in the coastal city of Karachi.
Last December, a Taliban assault on a military-run school in Peshawar left 141 dead, with 132 children among the victims. After the attack, Christian churches announced the cancellation of Christmas celebrations, deciding instead to observe the day with simplicity in all Peshawar churches.