A suicide bomb attack on a historic church in north-western Pakistan killed at least 56 people today
The bombing in Peshawar, which wounded another 120 people, underlines the threat posed by Islamic extremists as the government seeks a peace deal with domestic Taliban militants.
It occurred as hundreds of worshippers were coming out of the church in the city's Kohati Gate district after 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.
Witnesses said they heard two blasts, the second more powerful than the first.
"There were blasts and there was hell for all of us," said Nazir John, who was at the church. "When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around."
There were at least 400 worshippers at the church when the attack occurred, said Mr John.
Survivors wailed and hugged each other in the wake of the blasts. The white walls of the All Saints Church were pockmarked with holes likely caused by ball bearings or other metal objects contained in the bombs.
The blasts killed at least 56 people and wounded another 120, said Arshad Javed, the top health official at the hospital in Peshawar where the victims were being treated. The dead included several women and children, said Sher Ali Khan, another doctor at the hospital.
The number of casualties from the blasts was so high that the hospital was running out of caskets for the dead and beds for the wounded, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a former information minister of surrounding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province who was at the scene.