The aftermath of the attack was visible on the patio of the church, constructed in 1883, during the British colonial era. The brick was stained with blood, and dozens of pairs of sandals belonging to
victims lay unclaimed. The historic white-stone church looked as if it had stood between gunmen in a battle, with hundreds of small chunks missing from its walls. Clumps of hair and flesh stained the courtyard walls, near where a bishop of the Church of Pakistan sat comforting victims and accepting calls of outrage from religious leaders from across the globe.
“We are feeling insecure, afraid and disturbed,” said the Rev. Humphrey S. Peters, the bishop of Peshawar for the Church of Pakistan, established in 1970 to serve the Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian faiths. “But our faith is growing stronger.”
Later Monday, Pakistan’s National Assembly approved a resolution condemning the “heinous, brutal and inhuman attack,” calling it an attack not only on Christians but “against all Pakistanis.”
Christians compose only 1 to 2 percent of Pakistan’s population and have long complained of being under siege from Islamist militants and others in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation. Yet Sunday’s bombing stunned the entire nation and inflamed the already delicate effort to maintain public order.
For the second consecutive day, Christians protested in cities across the country, throwing rocks, blocking traffic and burning tires. In Peshawar, according to local media reports, some protesters even used bodies of the dead to block traffic in protest.
A splinter group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban asserted responsibility for Sunday’s attack, which reportedly killed scores of children attending Sunday school and choir members, saying it was in protest of U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil, the latest of which might have occurred Sunday.
In a statement, U.S. Ambassador Richard G. Olson said the church bombing was “an assault on the values of the people of Pakistan and a threat to a prosperous future for all citizens.” While traveling to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told reporters that the attack has him rethinking his plan to engage the Taliban in peace talks.
But in Peshawar, the victims and their families had little appetite for politicians or diplomatic speak.
Arshad Javed, 52, battled the stench of death in the church courtyard Monday to collect ball bearings that had been used in the explosives to maim and kill.
“This is a killing point,” Javed said after he collected about a dozen ball bearings in one hand.