- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A grenade attack on a Protestant church packed with Sunday worshippers killed five persons including an American woman and her daughter in an assault clearly aimed at Pakistan's foreign community.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which at least one young man wearing black some witnesses said two ran through the center of the church hurling grenades. But suspicion fell quickly on Islamic militants.
Ten Americans were among the 45 persons injured, most of whom were foreigners, police and hospital attendants said. One body remained unidentified late yesterday, and officials said it might be that of the assailant.
President Bush condemned the attack on the Protestant International Church and called it an act of terrorism. He pledged to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the assault was aimed at undermining Pakistan's pro-U.S. president at a time when he is trying to quell Islamic fundamentalism following the Taliban's fall in neighboring Afghanistan.
The U.S. Embassy identified the dead Americans as Barbara Green and her daughter, Kristen Wormsley, a senior at the American School in Islamabad. Their hometown was not disclosed.
Mrs. Green and her husband, Milton Green, worked at the U.S. Embassy she in administration and he in the computer division. Mr. Green and the couple's young son were injured but not seriously, according to police.
The other dead included one Afghan and one Pakistani as well as the one unidentified, Pakistani officials said.
The attack occurred at 10:50 a.m. during a sermon before 60 to 70 worshippers. Dozens of police and soldiers rushed to the scene.
The church, about 400 yards from the U.S. Embassy, is located in the guarded diplomatic quarter in the heart of Pakistan's capital and primarily serves the foreign community. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are Muslim, and few Christian Pakistanis live in Islamabad.
Survivors spoke of deafening blasts, choking smoke and pandemonium. They said terrified parents screamed for their children, and stunned worshippers dived beneath chairs and behind cement pillars as bits of flesh were hurled through the air.
Parishioners sobbed and called out "Brother, brother," as they tried to find friends and family amid the chaos. Parents groped to find their way downstairs, where their children were attending Sunday School. Other parishioners feared touching the wounded because unexploded grenades lay near their bodies.
Witnesses gave conflicting accounts of the number of attackers. Late Sunday, the senior police superintendent, Nasir Khan Durrani, said authorities believed there was only one bomber. Mr. Durrani said the assailant may have died in the attack.
"It was horrific," said Elisabeth Mundhenk, 54, of Hamburg, Germany, as she awaited treatment for shrapnel wounds at a hospital. "There was a horrible smell, and we could barely breathe."
Mark Robinson of San Clemente, Calif., who was being treated at a clinic for a minor leg injury, described "total pandemonium."
"Everyone panicked," Mr. Robinson said. "I saw one woman on the steps with a piece of shrapnel in her carotid artery. She bled to death right there."
In addition to the Americans, 12 Pakistanis, five Iranians, one Iraqi, one Ethiopian and one German were injured, police said. The government said the injured included Sri Lankans, Afghans, Swiss, Britons, Australians and Canadians.
Six or seven were in serious condition, District Judge Tariq Mehmood Khan said. British aid worker Nic Parham, 36, told Britain's Press Association news agency that an attacker ran through the center of the church, hurling explosives. "He had a belt on with what looked as though it could have been homemade grenades," Mrs. Parham said. "I seem to remember about four or five explosions."
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf condemned the attack as a "ghastly act of terrorism" and pledged to find those responsible. After the September 11 attacks, Mr. Musharraf abandoned support for the Afghan Taliban and lent his support to the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
On Jan. 12, Mr. Musharraf announced a major crackdown on Islamic fundamentalists who had been supported for years by Pakistani governments and banned five extremist movements. More than 2,000 people were arrested, although many have since been released.
It had been long expected that religious extremists would strike back with dramatic attacks against foreigners, Western interests or government facilities in Pakistan.
The kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl was seen as part of a campaign to embarrass the government and undercut its support in the West. Four persons, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, have been arrested in the case.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide