A grenade attack on a Protestant worship service in the diplomatic quarter of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, left five people dead and another 40-plus wounded. The dead included an American embassy worker and her teenage daughter, a Pakistani woman, and an Afghan man. A fifth body remains unidentified.
The attack occurred Sunday morning, March 17, at the Protestant International Church, which is a short distance from the American embassy. Among the injured Americans are four Southern Baptists and three workers from The Evangelical Alliance Mission (team).
Winnie Ritchie, 81, a retired teacher from Chicago who runs an English-language library in Islamabad, dove under some chairs to shield herself during the assault. One grenade landed about four feet from her but did not detonate. "The church was filled with white smoke," she told Christianity Today. "When it settled, it was just a devastating picture."
Pakistan native Chris Ali, a U.S. citizen and counselor for the Teen Challenge center in Islamabad, suffered a shrapnel wound. Nasim Ali, his wife, had a broken left leg.
"I think that their resolve to minister and their dedication to the task [have] not been deterred by this," said Mark Burgund of Calvary Church, the Alis' home church in Naperville, Illinois.
Denis and Diane Sherbeck, who run a media ministry for team, were also injured. He was hospitalized overnight for leg and shoulder wounds. Diane Sherbeck was injured from flying debris. Tammy Soderstrom, also of team, suffered an arm wound.
Charles Rogers, director of corporate security for World Vision, told Christianity Today that terrorists are focusing on softer targets.
"And there is no softer target than a Christian missionary," Rogers said.
Despite the danger, retiree Ritchie says church members are coping with their fears. "I'm not afraid, but I think we have to be alert, and be a little more cautious," she said. "We try to just keep on going as normally as we can."
With reports from Compass Direct, AP, and Baptist Press
LaTonya Taylor is the editorial resident for Christianity Today.
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous Christianity Today coverage of the church attack includes:
On The Run from Police, Iranian Christian Survives Church Attack | Fleeing persecution with no passport, refugee witnesses last week's grenade murders in Pakistan. (March 26, 2002)
Pakistan Grenade Attack Survivors Worship and Weep | On the Sunday after March 17 attack, church members regather in Islamabad. (March 25, 2002)
Weblog: Five Killed, Dozens Wounded in Pakistan Church Attack (March 18, 2002)
Related coverage includes:
No arrests made after church attack — Business Day (March 25, 2002)
Faith unbending in bombed church — The Washington Times (March 25, 2002)
A week after attack, congregation seeks solace — Associated Press (March 25, 2002)
Christians pray for killed in Pak church — TheTimes of India (March 24, 2002)
Christians Pray for Five Killed in Pakistan Church — ABC News (March 24, 2002)
Wounded marvel at survival — The Boston Globe (March 21, 2002)
Church Attack In Pakistan Kills Two From U.S. — The Washington Post (March 18, 2002)
Worshippers Dead in Pakistan Attack — Associated Press (March 17, 2002)
For more articles on the March 17 attack, see Yahoo's full coverage on Pakistan.
Christianity Today'sWorld Report has more coverage of religious tensions and violence in Pakistan.