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Two more Christians shot dead in Pakistan's Quetta

Motorcycle gunmen open fire on worshippers leaving a Sunday service in the latest outrage in Balochistan

Two more Christians shot dead in Pakistan's Quetta

Edhi staff take the bodies of Azhar Iqbal and Rahid Khalid to Edhi Morgue in Quetta on April 15. (Photo supplied) 

Zahid Hussain and Naseem James, Quetta
Pakistan

April 16, 2018

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Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two members of the minority Christian community as they were leaving a church in southern Pakistan. 

The attack took place on April 15 in Essa Nagri, a Christian-majority area in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. 

According to officials, gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire on Christian worshippers who were walking out of a Seventh-day Adventist church after its Sunday service and sped away. 

Azhar Iqbal, 28, and Rahid Khalid, 19, were pronounced dead on arrival at Bolan Medical Complex. 

Two girls, Sonia Shakil, 11, and Mehwish William, 13, and a man, Chaudhry Samuel, 38, were among the injured. 

Shortly after the shooting, dozens of relatives of the victims held a protest at Goli Mar Intersection on Barori Road and chanted slogans against the provincial authorities. 

"Down with Balochistan chief minister, down with the Balochistan government," chanted the demonstrators, placing the victims' bodies on the road. 

The five-hour protest was called off after Balochistan's Minority Affairs Minister Danish Kumar and district commissioner Farrukh Atique met demonstrators. 

"The Balochistan government has agreed to set up a committee of top officials to draw up a comprehensive security plan for the protection of the Christian community," Jaffar George, a former education minister who was part of the negotiation team, told ucanews.com.

"We strongly condemn the terrorist attack and stand with our community at this time of grief," he said. "A colonel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps has met us and promised complete security."

The attack came nearly two weeks after four Catholics who had been visiting a relative as part of an Easter reunion were killed in a drive-by shooting in Quetta's Shah Zaman area. 

The so-called Islamic State terrorist outfit claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

A week before last Christmas, two suicide bombers packed a Christian church in Quetta, killing at least nine people and wounding up to 56. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the carnage.

Impoverished Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province and has been wracked by violence perpetuated by Islamist militants and separatists. Attacks have increased on Christians, Shia Hazaras and security forces. 

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