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Tajikistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to hold three members of the Sonmin Grace Church for interrogation after a fatal bombing in their church 10 days ago, a source in Dushanbe confirmed late last night.

The powerful double explosion during Sunday worship on October 1 killed at least 10 Christians and hospitalized 39 more. Seven members are still in critical condition.

Hours after the blasts left the three-story church complex in shambles, Tajik authorities detained 12 church leaders, holding them overnight Sunday for questioning. Although reportedly eight were released by the following evening, several other church members were arrested the next day.

"Among those (who were) being held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were two who are injured but have been denied access to any medical assistance," one contact in Dushanbe reported. "Women (were) among those detained."

The detained Christians were "all church members and servants, and are said by the government to be the leading suspects," another Dushanbe source said.

Although all but two of the Christians had been released by October 9, the number of confirmed detainees rose to three yesterday. The identity of the Christians still under arrest could not be confirmed.

Released church leaders said they were questioned about the actual bombing incident, as to where they had been when it happened, and whether they had seen anything suspicious that day. But they were also interrogated about how and why they had become believers in Jesus, and what plans they had to evangelize others, they said. None of the first eight released reported being beaten.

Under the laws of Tajikistan, anyone put under formal detention must be released after three days, or arrested on specific ...

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November 13, 2000

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