Quetta [Pakistan], December 17 (ANI): Nine people, including two women, were killed and several others were injured in a suicide attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church located on Quetta's Zarghoon Road on Sunday.
Geo News quoted Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti as saying that two suicide bombers stormed the church, one of whom was shot dead at the entrance and the other suicide bomber blew himself up outside the church hall.
According to Quetta DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema a search operation was underway as two other terrorists were on the run after the attack.
At least 400 people were reportedly present inside the church at the time of the attack.
"The suicide bombers were unable to enter the main building of the church. If they were able to do this and we did not have security deployed to neutralise them, they would have caused a lot of damage," a senior police official was quoted as saying.
The church was holding a 'Sunday School Christmas Programme' at the time of the attack.
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa called the attack as an attempt to cloud Christmas celebrations and create religious cleavages.
Condemning the terrorist attack, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain expressed grief at the loss of innocent lives and directed authorities to ensure best medical treatment possible for the injured.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan also condemned the attack and urged the government to ensure special protection for churches as Christmas approaches.
In recent past, this was fourth such attack.
A suicide attack on two churches in Lahore's Youhanabad neighbourhood killed 15 people and injured more than 70 on March 15, 2015.
In an attack in 2013, 80 people were killed and 100 were wounded in twin explosions at All Saint's Church at Peshawar's Kohati gate.
About 2.5 million Christians are estimated to be living in Pakistan. (ANI)