Kamran Chaudhry, Lahore
Updated: February 14, 2017 10:14 AM GMT
A Pakistani police officer near the covered bodies of people killed in a terrorist attack in Lahore, Feb. 13. (Photo by AFP)
Church leaders from Lahore Archdiocese are conducting prayer services and organizing volunteers after a suicide bomber killed 13 people in the Pakistani city on Feb. 13.
Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore condemned the "senseless violence" of the bomb attack that hit a protest rally of pharmacists opposing changes to a drug sales law outside the provincial assembly building on Lahore's Mall Road.
"With heartfelt and deepest sorrow, I sympathize with all the families that lost their relations in this callous and devilish act of terrorism," said Archbishop Shah.
Among the 13 dead were six police officials and a further 100 people were injured by the attack claimed by Jamaatur Ahrar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Jamaatur Ahrar also claimed responsibility for last year’s Easter Day bomb attack in the city, which killed more than 70 people in a public park.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a day of mourning in Lahore on Feb. 14 and all private schools were closed.
Father Jahanzeb Iqbal, rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, said the church was "on high alert."
"The gates of our schools and church have been closed but despite the closed roads and tight security around, we shall hold a novena for the blast victims," said Father Iqbal.
Watch this video by ucanews.com to see the affected area the day after the attack occurred
Volunteers of Rwadari Tehreek, an interfaith peace group from the archdiocese, have been in hospitals helping families of the injured. "Our youth have contributed 44 bags of blood since last night, the response has been overwhelming," said Samson Salamat its Christian chairman.
"The attacks prove that the terrorist outfits, their supporters and facilitators still have the ability to target even high security zones. We call upon government functionaries to go beyond lip service and implement the National Action Plan and take stern and appropriate action", he said.
"This culture of violent extremism and terrorism is deeply rooted and therefore needs a multi-dimensional approach and strategy. The government needs to focus on de-radicalization, de-weaponization and de-militarization of society to deal with this menace which has taken away the lives of thousands of innocent citizens," he added.
Also on Feb. 13, two personnel from a bomb disposal squad were killed and 11 others wounded in a roadside blast in the city of Quetta, Balochistan province.
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