Deadly attack on Pakistan Methodist church leaves 8 dead, many wounded

Eight people have died and 44 have been injured at a Methodist church in Pakistan, according to reports from Quetta this morning.

Nine of the injured are in a critical condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Worshippers fled the church after the attack.Reuters

The Bethel Memorial Methodist Church was attacked by two suicide bombers who tried to enter the church but were stopped by guards at the entrance

Police guards at the church exchanged fire with the attackers before they could enter the main sanctuary, said provincial police chief Moazzam Jah.

'There were nearly 400 people inside the church, but the attackers couldn't get inside the services,' Jah said.

'We killed one of them, and the other one exploded himself after police wounded him.'

He said the church had guards because Christian places of worship were often targeted by Islamist extremist groups. Quetta is only 40 miles away from the border with Afghanistan.

A policeman stands guard after gunmen attacked the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan December 17, 2017Reuters

Balochistan's home minister Sarfaraz Bugti said on Twitter that if the men had not been stopped there could have been hundreds of casualties.

He told Geo News: 'The terrorists had weapons and it seems they wanted to take hostages inside the church.'

The incident was over in 16 minutes, he said in a Twitter post.

Islamist extremists have previously attacked All Saints Church in Peshawar in 2013, killing 80 people and wounding more than 100, and two churches in Lahore in 2015, killing 15 and wounding more than 70.