Blood spills all over the church courtyard.
Shamim and local Sunday school teachers inspect a pool of blood outside the hall used for Sunday School.
By Shamim Masih
Peshawar, is the capital city of Khyber Pakhton Khawa - KPK province, 188 Km from the capital, Islamabad. All Saints Memorial Church was its distinctive architecture first opened for service in December 1983. The church is located in Kohati gate, an inner city area of the city. The church capacity is about 500 – 600 and usually the services are so popular that late-comers are required to gather around it during Sunday Service.
On Sunday, 22nd September, 2013 after the church service, people were served with cooked rice in the church yard. Worshippers were busy eating a communal meal when a terrorist entered the church yard and blew himself up. Only a few seconds later a further suicide bomber exploded a further incendiary device.
I reported the incident to the Chairman of the BPCA after being advised of the incident by a colleague based in Peshawar. I was instructed to visit the site immediately to report on the human catastrophe and how we could provide relief to the victims.
When I reached the site of the explosion the devastation was beyond imagination. Although early figures those killed stated ten deaths it was very apparent that the actual death toll was well above this. Below I include some eye witness accounts that describe more pertinent facts of the incident:
"The blast shattered the glass panes of the nearby houses", Said Mr. Ahmad Ali (a Muslim neighbor), 50 years of age. “I love Christian people and usually see the services held in the Church from my window. I saw the congregation eating cooked rice at around 11:30 am. Suddenly I heard a blast and then a second. The noise was deafening and parts of human bodies were thrown in the air.”
Shocked teenager Shaleem spoke of the fear he felt.
Shaleem Junaid a 13 year old child who after completing his Sunday school class, was on the other side of the Church building described the attack. He said; "After church, everyone was eating and I was playing with a few other children. We heard two blasts and then lot's of screaming. I was terrified!"
"People were running around helping the wounded and many were crying. There was blood and pieces of flesh everywhere. My Sunday school teacher Sonny Samson was killed and a teacher named Salman was injured and admitted to the local hospital."
Families are grief stricken and many have lost 3 generations. Over 20 young children lost their lives in the explosion that has decimated the local Christian community.
Riaz Khokhar 60, and older brother 28, died in the incident. One younger brother Ayaz Khohar said;
"As soon as I heard about the incident I rushed to the church, I was too late I only found dead bodies and blood stained the floors and walls." Despite his grief he took injured victims to the hospital.
Khalid Shahzad, a local human rights activist explained how the church had been receiving threats for some while. The local authorities and the Police had been informed but took no notice of the warnings. Christians had asked for an increase in local police and better vigilance, during their services.
The two police officers on duty allowed the bomber through the church gate and checkpoint without a search. I found an injured man Waqas (25) in the Lady Reading Hospital crying bitterly at the loss of his mother and two sisters. I saw a lady in the hospital who was feeding her small baby on a hospital bed with two legs injured so badly, she may never walk again - worse still the baby was injured and covered in blood. I saw Danish Younis, 32, whose two small children and wife died in the Church blast.
Victims spoke of a lack of doctors during the Sunday incident due to it being a day many took off for rest.
Ball bearings were used with the incendiary devices to cause pain, suffering and death.
A pile of belongings left behind after the attack. Many of these litter the church courtyard.
Blood and pieces of flesh strewn all over.
The impact of the explosion damaged the floor.
Bits of blackened flesh cover the ground.
Blood has stained the grey cement red. Black flesh in clumps has remind local people of the severity of the explosions.
The clean-up has begun but emotional scars will take time to heal.
Coffins were so in demand that craftsman had to work through the night, to cover the shortage in supplies.