Pakistani Catholic bishops are demanding action by the government against banned terrorist groups following a recent bomb blast that killed at least 26 people in Lahore. Those killed included nine police officials and three Christians from a nearby Christian neighborhood. Another 56 were injured. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the July 24 attack. The Pakistani Taliban is allied with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan and targets the government. The Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace has condemned the suicide bombing. "The commission calls upon the government to bring the perpetrators to justice and address extremist elements and root causes of this intolerance; to tighten its measures for protection of all citizens and officials," said a July 25 statement signed by commission chairperson Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad. "We all need to stand together firmly as one with government officials in every possible way to fight against extremism," he said. Police officials are visiting churches and reviewing security arrangements after this third major terror attack in Lahore this year. At least six people were killed and 15 others wounded in April when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in the city. In February, 18 people were killed
including several police officials, and at least 87 were injured in a suicide bombing on Mall Road in Lahore. The recent bombing eclipsed the July 25 launch in Lahore of Bishop Arshad's music video album of patriotic songs that he wrote and composed and which featured footage of recent terror attacks. About 1,000 participants, most of them Christians, observed a minute of silence for the victims of the July 24 bomb blast. "We are living in the era of cruelty; there is a fire everywhere. The number of widows and orphans are increasing," said Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore. Christian lawmaker Asiya Nasir, another speaker said, "We just cannot hand over our country to these animals. It is time to give up religious or ethnic divisions."