Pakistan church attack: Twin suicide bombers kill eight with explosives and guns

Pakistan church attack: Twin suicide bombers kill eight with explosives and guns

Pakistan church attack: Twin suicide bombers kill eight with explosives and guns

Updated 18 December 2017, 1:45 AEDT

Two gunmen wearing explosive-filled vests attack a packed Christian church in south-western Pakistan as Sunday services begin, killing at least eight people and wounding up to 45, police say.

Two suicide bombers have attacked a packed Christian church in south-western Pakistan, killing at least eight people and wounding up to 45, before one of them blew himself up and the other was killed by police.

Gunmen wearing explosives-filled vests stormed the church in Quetta city when Sunday services began, exploding a suicide vest and shooting at the worshippers, said Sarfraz Bugti, the home minister of Baluchistan province.

Police guards at the church exchanged fire with the attackers before they could enter the main sanctuary, provincial police chief Moazzam Jah said, adding that two women were among those killed.

"There were nearly 400 people inside the church, but the attackers couldn't get inside the services," Mr Jah said.

"We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him."

Mr Jah said the venue — Bethel Memorial Methodist Church — was on high alert as Christian places of worship were often targeted by Islamist extremist over Christmas.

Another police official, Abdur Razaq Cheema, said two attackers escaped from the scene.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's Amaq news agency said, but provided no evidence for the claim.

Baluchistan has long been the scene of an insurgency by separatists fighting against the state to demand more of a share of the gas and mineral-rich region's resources.

They also accuse the central Government of discrimination.

The Taliban, Sunni Islamist militants and sectarian groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group also operate in the strategically important region, which borders Iran as well as Afghanistan.

The violence has fuelled concern about security for projects in the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan's southern deep-water port of Gwadar.

Reuters