Masked Muslim militants shouting Islamic slogans and carrying assault rifles slaughtered 16 Protestant Christians at a worship service on October 28 in Pakistan. The five-minute attack was in retaliation for the United States-led attacks on neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistani Christians say.

The massacre occurred in Bahawalpur, a city of 500,000 about 230 miles southwest of Lahore. The congregation belongs to the Church of Pakistan, the country's largest Protestant denomination. Members were borrowing the building of St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church. At least 70 worshipers were present.

Among the dead are seven women, three children, and the pastor of the 100-member congregation. Thirteen of the dead were members of one family. Also dead was a Muslim police officer assigned to guard the church. Five other victims are in critical condition.

"Six Afghan-looking bearded persons riding motorcycles entered the church compound," one witness says. "First they went into the tent of the police constable who was on duty and killed him. Then they killed two children who were playing outside the church hall. Then two terrorists stood guard at the gate of the church compound, and four of them entered into the church hall. They closed the main door. … and began spraying the members. … with bullets while [members] were singing their last hymn."

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, promised to search for the killers. "The methods used and the inhumane tactics employed clearly indicates involvement of trained terrorist organizations," Musharraf said. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Shahbaz Bhatti of the human rights group Christian Liberation Front Pakistan told reporters that the attackers probably came from one of three ...

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