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5 Dead in Attack on Islamabad Church


At least five people have been killed, including two Americans, and more than 40 wounded in a grenade attack on a church in the Pakistani capital. Initial reports from witnesses suggested there were two attackers, but the government later issued a statement saying there was only one. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses and police say an unknown attacker threw grenades inside a Protestant church in Islamabad, while the Sunday sermon was underway. The church was filled with around 70 worshipers, including Americans, Britons, and families of other foreign diplomats in Pakistan.

U.S. embassy officials say Barbara Green, the wife of a U.S. diplomat, and their daughter, Kristen Wormsley, are among the dead.

The church is located in a heavily guarded diplomatic compound, not far from the American Embassy.

U.S. citizen Mark Robinson was among those injured in the attack. "A man, in the middle of the sermon, he ran in, and threw two or three grenades," said Mr. Robinson, "and everyone was just caught by surprise, of course. ... It was so fast."

Police have made no arrests so far, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Interior Ministry official Tasneem Noorani says police have yet to determine what happened to the attacker. "It's possible that he could be amongst the injured or the dead. That's being investigated. And it is also possible that he may have escaped," he said.

Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf said he was outraged by what he called a terrorist act. He ordered his security agencies to launch a "coordinated hunt" to track down the culprits.

Senior Pakistani officials have suggested Sunday's attack may have been a reaction to the government's crackdown on Islamic militant groups angered by President Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan.

In Washington, President Bush strongly condemned the attack and vowed to work closely with the Pakistani government to bring those responsible to justice.

Wendy Chamberlin, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, speaking to reporters in Islamabad, said the United States would continue its fight against terrorism.

"The attack this morning on worshipers was a cowardly act that took the lives of five innocent people and injured many more," she said. "We will not give in to those driven by hate, to those so cowardly that they throw explosives at innocent people in a house of worship. These terrorists will not win in the United States, and will not win in Pakistan, and we will not let them win anywhere."

There has been an increase in religious violence in Pakistan in recent days involving militants from majority Sunni and minority Shiite sects of Islam. But attacks on Christians and other minorities are relatively rare. In October last year, unknown gunmen entered a church in the central Pakistani town of Bahawalpur and killed 16 worshipers.

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