Sep 22 2013
A suicide bomb attack on a historic church in north-western Pakistan killed at least 52 people and wounded more than 100 in one of the worst assaults on the country's Christian minority.
The bombing underlines the threat posed by Islamic extremists as the government seeks a peace deal with domestic Taliban militants.
It occurred as worshippers were coming out of the church in Peshawar city following services to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn, said government administrator Sahibzada Anees.
It was not immediately clear whether one or two suicide bombers carried out the attack.
The dead included several women and children, said Sher Ali Khan, a doctor at a hospital in Peshawar where the victims were being treated.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion falls on one of the country's many Islamic militant groups. Islamic militants have been blamed for previous attacks on the Muslim country's Christian minority, as well as Muslim groups they consider heretics.
Islamic militants have carried out dozens of attacks across the country since Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office in June, even though he has made clear that he believes a peace deal with the largest group, the Taliban, is the best way to reduce violence in the country.
Pakistan's major political parties endorsed Mr Sharif's call for negotiations earlier this month. But the Taliban have said that the government must release militant prisoners and begin pulling troops out of the north-west tribal region that serves as their sanctuary before they will begin talks.