Deadly blasts hit Pakistan churches in Lahore

LAHORE/PAKISTAN, March 15: Two bomb blasts have killed at least 10 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

At least 50 people were reportedly hurt in the explosions at the Catholic church and Christ Church in the city’s Youhanabad area.

The twin blasts took place at a busy time, with many people in the area to attend Sunday mass.

Pakistan’s Christian community has often been targeted by militants.

An offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has said it carried out the attack.

Witnesses say suicide bombers were responsible for the explosions but police have not confirmed this.

The bombers are said to have detonated their explosives at the gates of the churches.

Local media say the death toll has reached 10.

‘Scuffle at church gate’

A large crowd gathered at the scene of the blasts, protesting about the lack of security.

The crowd also attacked two men it accused of involvement in the explosions.

Amir Masih, a witness quoted by Reuters news agency, said he had heard an explosion near one of the churches.

“I rushed towards the spot and saw the security guard scuffle with a man who was trying to enter the church,” he said.

The man blew himself up after failing to enter the church, Mr Masih told Reuters.

At least 80 people were killed by bombers at a church in the Pakistani city of Peshawar in 2013, in what is thought to be the deadliest ever attack on the country’s Christians.

Christians make up less than 2% of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population.