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Suicide Attack at Pakistan Church Kills 78

A twin suicide bombing outside a historic Christian church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 78 people Sunday, in one of the deadliest attacks on the country's Christian minority in years.

The head of a nearby hospital in the city of Peshawar, where the bombing took place, said many of the 120 wounded are in critical condition. The dead included seven children, women and two Muslim police officers who had been posted outside the church.

Up to 600 worshipers attended the service at the 130-year-old All Saints Church and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside, when two explosions ripped through the crowd.

A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in the country's remote tribal region.

Pakistani intelligence officials said the latest drone strike came Sunday, when missiles hit a pair of compounds in the North Waziristan tribal area, killing six suspected militants.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "cruel" attack in a statement, saying it violated the tenets of Islam.

In Italy, Pope Francis led several thousand people in a prayer for the victims. Those who carried out the attack, he said, ``took the wrong choice, one of hatred and war.''

Hundreds of Christians burned tires in the street in the southern city of Karachi to protest the bombing.

It was the worst attack in years on the Christian minority in Pakistan, and coincides with a broader wave of attacks this year on religious minorities, including Shi'ite Muslims.

The attacks are mostly orchestrated by Sunni extremist groups, although some also have been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

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