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Deadly grenade attack at Pakistan hospital

Pakistani government minister S.K. Tressler visits a woman injured in the attack.
Pakistani government minister S.K. Tressler visits a woman injured in the attack.  

Staff and wires

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Four people have been killed in a grenade attack on a missionary hospital near Islamabad, the second assault on a Christian institution in Pakistan in less than a week.

Police believe up to three men lobbed grenades at hospital workers as they were leaving a morning chapel service at 8:00am local time (0400 GMT) in Taxila, around 20 km (12 miles) west of the capital, on Friday.

Three nurses were killed in the attack, as was one of the attackers. He was found dead outside the gate to the hospital. According to police a grenade he was carrying went off prematurely and struck him in the chest.

The morning blast also wounded as many as 20 people, some of them seriously, according to the hospital's director, Dr. Ashchenaz Lal.

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Police have not yet found the two surviving attackers.

Attacks on Christian or Western targets have risen since President Pervez Musharraf joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism last year, riling extremist Islamic groups in this Muslim majority nation and sparking a crackdown on suspected militant groups.

Officials say security had been assigned to the hospital, but that was not in place at the time of the attack No one has taken responsibility for the attack.

Anti-Christian terrorism

In Friday's attack, all of the casualties were Pakistani Christians, according to the hospital director, who said the hospital had never been attacked before, or even threatened.

"It appears to be some sort of anti-Christian terrorism," Dr. Lal said, adding that there is only one foreign national on the hospital staff.

The assault was the fourth fatal attack by suspected Islamic militants on Christian establishments since October.

On Monday, six people were killed when three gunmen attacked a Christian missionary school in the resort town of Murree, also near Islamabad.

Relatives mourn a genade attack victim
Relatives mourn a genade attack victim  

Police said later in the week that the three responsible for the school attack blew themselves up with grenades after escaping from a police checkpoint. (Full story)

In October, 16 people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a Protestant congregation in the city of Behawalpur in Punjab province.

In March, a grenade attack on a Protestant congregation in Islamabad's diplomatic enclave killed five people, including the wife and daughter of an American diplomat.

Christians, Hindus and other religions make up about three percent of Muslim-majority Pakistan's 140 million people.

Many Western nations have advised their citizens against visiting Pakistan and embassies and foreign companies have scaled back staff levels in the wake of the attacks.

On Friday, the Australian Cricket Board canceled its team's upcoming three-test series in Pakistan amid fears for player safety. (Full story)


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