Photo Credit: Diocese of Peshawar
[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A security guard at a church in a Christian colony in Peshawar foiled a major terror attack this morning; before being killed in a subsequent gun-battle. Four suicide bombers entered the colony, on the city’s Warsak Road, at 5.50am local time (12.50am GMT). The security guard, Samuel Masih, raised the alarm, alerting nearby police and army forces. He then challenged the terrorists and was killed as a result of gunfire.
The four terrorists were also killed: some reports say that all four detonated their suicide belts; while others suggest that two died as a result of bomb-blasts and that another two were killed by security forces.
Five members of the security forces – two soldiers from the Frontier Corp (army reserves), a police officer and two civilian guards were injured in the exchange of fire. The Lady Reading Hospital and other nearby hospitals declared an emergency and residents of the area have been asked to stay in their homes.
In a statement, the Church of Pakistan’s Diocese of Peshawar described Mr Masih as “a brave man – indeed, a hero and a martyr who saved many lives.”
The diocese and its bishop, the Rt Revd Humphrey S Peters, praised the swift response of the Pakistani army, police and security forces and thanked them for their actions.
“It has been reported that the situation is now under control and that troops are carrying out a house to house search of the area,” they said.
Local clergy and diocesan officials visited the scene of the attack to console the Christian community. Inhabitants of the colony expressed their gratitude for the positive show of solidarity.
Bishop Peters strongly condemned “this brutal act of terrorism against the Christian community.”
Reports suggest that the attackers had initially intended to target the nearby Frontier Corp training centre, a cadet college, and an Army Public School. But security at those sites had been heightened following intelligence about a possible attack.
The area is close to the Pakistan – Afghanistan border and is vulnerable to cross-border terrorist incursions. Some media reports say that security forces found mobile phone with Afghanistan sim cards near the body parts of the dead terrorists. The Times of India reports that the Jamaat-ur-Ahrar terror group, which has links to the Pakistan Taleban, has claimed the responsibility for the attack.