As fourth woman dies from Taxila attack, Pakistan arrests suspects
Parveen Nelson, a 28-year-old nurse injured in the grenade attack on the Christian Hospital chapel in Taxila, Pakistan, died yesterday from her wounds. Meanwhile, examination of one of the other bodies—that of one of the attackers—led police to arrest half a dozen or so suspects today.
"A few people have been arrested and they are being questioned, investigations are going on," Tariq Khiani, the mayor of Rawalpindi, told reporters. "I don't know the exact number of people but it is more than five."
Yesterday, Khiani told Reuters that the investigation was making good progress. "After identifying the accused who was killed in the attack, we have information that the attackers were members either of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad or Harkat-ul-Mujahideen groups," he said. "Or they may be members of splinter or breakaway groups of these banned outfits," he said. "We believe we will track down the remaining two...we are pretty sure we will arrest them."
Other reports put the blame more squarely on Jaish-e-Mohammad. "We are convinced that associates of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a group outlawed by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in January, were behind the grenade attack," an unnamed security official told the Associated Press. Jaish-e-Mohammed (the Army of Muhammad) is also blamed for a December attack on the Indian Parliament.
"Some said they thought there were at least 15 more members, but others said they were not sure of the group's size," reports today's New York Times. "We can't say definitively," Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmed explains.
Earlier reports speculated that the dead attacker, Kamran Mir, had been shot by one of the other two terrorists. Apparently he was killed by shrapnel from one of the grenades.
Based on comments by one of the terrorists who attacked Murree Christian School earlier in the week and other information, many observers say more attacks are likely.
"These militants are fighting back [against President Musharraf's decision to align himself with the United States], and I think it will continue for many months," Tariq Rahman, a Quaid-e-Azam University linguistics professor who has studied the militant groups, told The New York Times in its Saturday edition.
Pakistani Christians know this, but continued to meet at church yesterday. "We won't cancel services," Khalid Pervaiz, pastor of Islamabad's United Pentecostal Church in Islamabad, told the Associated Press. "We will continue things the way we are doing them. Our members are not afraid. We are not afraid. God is still in control."
Well, at least some people are afraid. "Many worshipers stayed at home," reports The Times of London. "Those who did attend were frisked. Policemen with automatic weapons were posted outside the building and soldiers with machineguns patrolled in lorries."
At St. Thomas's Church in Islamabad, attendance was down 15 percent—but that's not a huge dropoff considering the country faced two attacks against Christians that week. Still, Funmi Opatola, wife of Nigeria's deputy ambassador to Pakistan and a lector at the church, prayed for more. "Pray for those who are too scared to come out of their homes," she said. "Give them the strength and the courage to come out."
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn has an article on the various political leaders and organizations who have condemned the attacks.
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