The United States joined nations and leaders around the world in condemning the attack on two Christian churches in Lahore, Pakistan by suicide bombers. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the blasts that killed 17 and wounded more than seventy people during Sunday services on March 15.
The attack is the latest in a series of assaults on the small Christian community in Pakistan. In addition to Christians, other religious minority communities in Pakistan have suffered at the hands of violent extremists. Earlier this year, for example, there were a series of attacks on Shia mosques by Sunni militant groups that resulted in more than eighty fatalities.
After strongly condemning the bombings in Lahore, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki extended “our deepest condolence to the families of the victims” and said “The United States stands in solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan in confronting this type of extremist violence.”
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denounced the church bombings as an “inhuman act of terrorism.” Pakistan’s Ulema Council Chairman Allama Tahir Ashrafi joined other religious, civil society and business leaders in Lahore in deploring the attacks. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms,” noting that “the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attacks while threatening to carry out more such acts in the future.”
President Barack Obama has stated that all people must speak up “against those who would misuse [God’s] name to justify oppression or violence or hatred…No God condones terror…or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.”
The United States, as State Department Spokesperson Psaki said after the church attacks in Lahore, “support[s] the right of every person to practice religion without fear of intimidation, death, coercion or any form of reprisal. This is a basic human right both in Pakistan and throughout the world.”